Visiting Dr. Internet may add to anxiety
Tuesday, May 17, 2022
Do you visit “Dr. Internet” every time you get the sniffles or feel a twinge? In other words, do you search online for health symptoms on a regular basis? If you do, you may have a condition called “cyberchondria,” meaning you experience anxiety for your personal wellness caused by health-related online searches.
About 80% of internet users surf the web to answer health questions and self-diagnose when they don’t feel well. Searching the Internet may seem like a good idea because there is so much information at your fingertips. But you don’t want to add stress to your life unnecessarily.
Here are just a few reasons why trying to answer health questions and diagnose any problems without the aid of a doctor can be a problem:
There is so much information available online that it can be difficult to sort reliable sources from those that are less reputable. Even when health-related information is reliable, most searchers don’t have a medical background to allow them to know what to do with it, as medical problems tend to be complex.
Recent studies have shown that as many as 9 out of 10 people who used the Internet to self-diagnose were led to information on serious illnesses when they had basic symptoms.
When patients mistakenly believe they have a serious illness based on Internet searches, it can lead to high levels of anxiety that can cause medical problems and lead to unnecessary screenings or diagnostic tests.
“The most important search you can make is finding the right doctor if you don’t already have one,” said Stacey Guan, M.D., Genesis Primary Care. “Your primary care physician will be your partner in your health journey. He or she will serve as your source of credible information specific to your personal health history.”
So don’t stress yourself. Make an appointment to talk with your doctor about what is bothering you. If you can’t stay away from the Internet in the meantime, use credible medical websites like the National Institute of Health to search for signs and symptoms. Then you can have a comprehensive list to take to your doctor.
Genesis HealthCare System’s Health and Wellness content conveniently provides accurate and helpful information. Your health history and current health may impact suggestions provided through our Health and Wellness content. Although we hope this information is helpful, it is not a substitute for your doctor's medical advice. Before making any significant changes, please consult your doctor.