When you’re feeling unwell, it’s so tempting just to go online and search for what might be wrong with you. After all, we’re often told that all the information in the world is just a few clicks away, and we’re also told that doctors and other medical professionals are busy people. So why not help the situation by bypassing these medical experts and working out the issue – and potentially the treatment – using the power of the internet? It would seem to make sense, but the reality is that this is never a good thing to do.
Known as ‘self-diagnosis’, the idea of working out what your ailments all mean without a healthcare professional can lead to giving yourself the wrong diagnosis a lot of the time, and in the most serious situations, it can lead to dangerous outcomes and even death because you won’t get the treatment you really need. With that in mind, read on to find out why trying to diagnose yourself is always a bad idea.
Lack Of Medical Expertise
One of the most obvious and important reasons why self-diagnosis is a problem is that you’ll more than likely lack any medical expertise (even if you are a doctor, you’ll still need to have a firm diagnosis carried out, of course, but at least you’ll be in a better position to know what your symptoms could mean).
Medical professionals have to go through years and years of training and education, and they have to gain a huge amount of knowledge before they can even think about diagnosing patients. Even with all that knowledge, they’ll often need to consult with other experts and conduct a battery of tests to be absolutely sure of what they’re diagnosing a patient with.
If you’re a normal individual without any medical training or knowledge at all, you might see the same set of symptoms as a doctor would, but you won’t know how to accurately interpret them or what tests to carry out (or even have access to the testing equipment). This can lead to mistakes and people thinking they have one condition when they have another, which means a lot of stress and anxiety that could be unnecessary.
You also wouldn’t know how to correctly treat any health issues you might think you had, and again, seeking professional advice is the best thing to do. For example, expert help when selecting the right hearing aid means your life can get back on track, and expert help when it comes to medication is just as crucial.
The internet has a huge amount of information on it, but just because it’s online, that doesn’t mean it’s accurate, and it doesn’t mean it’s reliable. As you might know if you have a blog yourself, anyone can publish anything online, and it doesn’t have to be fact-checked in any way, meaning that at least some of what you read online is false information (either intentionally or because the person who posted it was mistaken).
The problem is that when you only rely on the information you find online, and you don’t speak to a professional about your problems, you can easily get the wrong information – you might (and probably will) find conflicting information, leading to more confusion which could so easily be avoided by making an appointment with a doctor or other healthcare professional. Plus, people are often subject to confirmation bias which means they’ll subconsciously look for information that supports their thoughts and ideas, and although this might feel as though it’s just confirmation about what you first thought, it could be leading you further away from the truth.
Cyberchondria might not be a word you’ve heard before, but it’s very similar to one you probably have heard – hypochondria. A hypochondriac is someone who constantly thinks they are unwell or who feels they have various symptoms of unpleasant ailments. Cyberchondria is a similar issue, but the person becomes more and more anxious about the state of their health because of what they’ve read online – they’ll diagnose themselves with all kinds of terrible diseases and become stressed because of it, eventually causing themselves to become unwell for real.
By staying away from trying to diagnose yourself online, this problem won’t be something you have to worry about. It’s far better to make an appointment with a doctor if you feel unwell or have some symptoms you’re concerned about so they can diagnose you properly. It’s true that you might have a more serious condition, but at least you would know for sure if that was the case, and you would be able to get the right treatment and start it sooner rather than later, leading to a much more positive overall outcome.
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