You, Me, and Dr. Google


Calf pain? Back spasms? Numbness? Headaches? What is the first thing that you consult before going to see a professional healthcare provider? Dr. Google. What does Dr. Google diagnose you with? A blood clot? Kidney failure? Spinal cord injury? Brain cancer? Better start planning your own funeral.

Is seeking health advice online the best idea? There is no doubt how convenient and how big of an impact Google plays in our modern society — from finding the best brunches in town, to researching the coolest gadgets, to looking up the latest news and headlines — but it’s important not to believe everything that you read. I find that most people often misdiagnose themselves when it comes to medical conditions, and it leaves them less informed and feeling worse than ever. Information may not only be inaccurate, but it causes undue stress and worry on the part of the patient. Have you ever visited a page that reassured you that your stomach cramps were just caused by eating the wrong foods and not caused by stomach cancer?

Google and other search engines work by looking up key terms. This means that any page containing those matching words will show up, regardless of whether the information is true or false. The web is not your doctor. Nobody is the same, and everybody presents with different signs and symptoms. Just because a website has a list of everything that you feel does not mean that you have been properly diagnosed. I admit that Google is a good starting point to get an idea of what’s going on, but I highly suggest thinking twice before consulting Dr. G.

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