These days, most people’s first port of call when they notice something out of the ordinary or are experiencing symptoms is to look them up online. There are all kinds of health resources out there, including things like WebMD which are, to some extent, there to help us diagnose ourselves and find suitable courses of treatment for minor problems. While this works great with something trivial and easy to diagnose like poison ivy, sunburn or an insect sting, there are lots of symptoms that can relate to countless different conditions, some minor and some serious, and thinking we have found out what is wrong with us because of some web research can be quite dangerous.
Why Health Resources Online Can Give a False Sense of Security
If you have a common symptom, like stomach pain, you may look online and see that this can relate to an almost endless list of problems, many of them simple bugs that will go away in time and can be alleviated somewhat with over the counter medicines. This can make you feel like your condition is most likely to be one of these, and that you should buy some medicine and give it a few days before you start to think about going to the doctor. However, that same symptom could relate to a lot of serious problems too, many of which need to be addressed as early as possible. While the website tells you this, it is easier to believe that you’ve got one of the more minor things, which can lead to dangerous choices.
Why Health Resources Online Can Cause Problems with Seriously Ill People
Doctors recommend that if you are diagnosed with a serious condition, for example a form of cancer, you don’t do too much research around it online. This is because there are so many complexities and differences in treatments that the more you read, the more confused you will become and you may also begin to question the decisions your own doctor has made. While questioning things is OK if it gives you peace of mind, it is important for patients to trust their doctors rather than online resources which may relate to subtly different cases.
How to Use These Resources Wisely
The best way to use health information technology on the web is to:
- Never regard them as an alternative to visiting your doctor, and if the results of your search advise you to call a doctor immediately, don’t ignore them.
- Stick to using them for advice on minor complaints where you know what you are dealing with.
- Only use well known, credible health websites for advice and information.
- If researching a serious condition you or someone you know has been diagnosed with, remember that every case is different and treat it more as background research than trying to find answers to your own case – that is your doctor’s job and you have to trust them.
- If an over the counter remedy is advised, make sure you read the label – while for most people they are safe you need to check the person who will be taking them doesn’t have a reason not to take them (for example being pregnant, too young or allergic to an ingredient).
Todd Nash is an employee at a leading company that organizes financial tech services and much more. He has a very helpful nature and he enjoys sharing his ideas through his articles.