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The internet is a wonderful invention. You can find almost anything on there, no matter your interest and curiosity. Cat videos anyone? But when it comes to looking for information about your health, you do need to be careful.
On the one hand, it’s perfectly acceptable to look up information about ways to stay active or for ideas on healthy eating. But if you are feeling unwell, and want to find out the answer why, sitting on the sofa with a virtual appointment with Dr.Google is not always the best place to go. And within that same practice, you need to be wary of Dr.Bing, Dr.Yahoo, and any other search engine that might be considered a substitute doctor.
The internet can make your hypochondria worse
If you are already susceptible to believing every headache is a brain tumor, and every rash is an incurable disease, then the internet is liable to confirm your fears. Rather than simply type in the word ‘headache’ into Google, many people type in ‘headache’ and ‘brain tumor’ together, such as ‘Is my headache a brain tumor,’ and that is only going to bias the results discovered. Chances are, it might only be a headache, and nothing more.
Some websites aren’t reliable
Here’s the thing. A health website might look professional, but you need to check the credentials of the ‘expert’ delivering advice. After all, you wouldn’t speak about your health issues to a woman wearing a white jacket in the street, under the presumption that she was a doctor. You wouldn’t want to seek advice from anybody unless you knew they were accredited, with a medical degree or an online nurse practitioner program, so why would you trust the word of somebody you can’t see on the internet? You might get misinformation, and that might either a) freak you out unnecessarily, or b) lead you to believe that nothing is wrong with you, when actually, you might be genuinely unwell. Generally, sites ending in .gov or .edu are reputable sites governed by trusted organizations; sites ending in .com or .net are websites that may have good advice, but as you would do with your own doctor sometimes, you might still want to get a second or a third opinion elsewhere.
You might delay real help
Should you start to feel severely unwell, don’t waste time loading up your computer and calling on Dr.Google for help. There are times when the first thing you need to do is either a) ring your doctor’s surgery for an urgent appointment or b) call for an ambulance. The last thing you want to do is browse the internet to find out what is wrong with you, as you may be delaying health care that is desperately needed. Every minute counts! And the same applies when looking for health information about your children or any other member of your family. For symptoms such as these, don’t waste time online, as professional help is probably needed.
We aren’t saying don’t use the internet to look up advice on your health. A search on Google could save your life. But your priority should always be seeking professional help from an actual nurse or doctor, people who have spent years in training to give you a proper diagnosis. A search on the internet can be useful, but then again, it might lead you down the wrong path, so always practice caution. You see, Dr.Google will always have time to see you, but he might not always have the best or the right advice.