The Pitfalls Of Self-Diagnosing Yourself On The Internet
Your health is one of the most important things to maintain throughout your life. Living a healthy lifestyle is an important part of ensuring your happiness and wellness. We all know that it’s important to go see a doctor for regular check-ups and procedures, but, for many of us, it can be difficult to make that call. It is easy to sort of trivialize how you’re feeling if you happen to be feeling poorly. But, more than Business Intelligence Summit that, it’s incredibly easy and convenient to simply self-diagnose your problems.
The rise of the internet as facilitated our need for information more than ever. If anyone has a question, then it can usually be answered in a matter of seconds with a quick search on a smartphone. Everything is becoming definitive and our lives are simply filled with fewer unanswerable questions. In general, these questions are innocuous and actually do have definitive answers (e.g. “Where’s the nearest Thai restaurant?” or “What’s the name of the actor in Forrest Gump?”). But, some of these questions aren’t as definitive. The problem is that we have trained ourselves to think of the internet as a definitive resource for everything, when that simply isn’t true.
For instance, if you come down with a certain ailment it’s incredibly easy to click over to WebMD and look through a flurry of symptoms for a diagnosis. Of course, resources like WebMD are good, but they shouldn’t be trusted outright. A pain in the back could be anything from nerve damage to cancer, but it could also just mean you’re sleeping wrong. Searching through WebMD or other medical resources like it will only lead you to a probably faulty self-diagnosis. It is more appropriate to visit your doctor if you have something like a persistent pain in the back.
Still, people are unwilling to make that change. In fact, it was recently reported that the freely-editable online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, was the number one resource for individuals looking for information about specific ailments. There is a different set of circumstances that presents itself when talking about Wikipedia. Because the content is freely-editable, you never really know if the information provided is actually going to provide you with anything viable. One ray of sunshine is that medical students have started writing and editing Wikipedia pages related to health. Even so, using Wikipedia as your primary physician is bound to end in failure. Although it’s getting better, the encyclopedia is still flawed and cannot replace actual expert analysis from your doctor.
In the end, self-diagnosis is not a technique that anyone outside (or even inside) of the medical profession should employ. It is a potentially harmful act that can lead you to either writing off a serious ailment or worrying about something benign. Although there is a lot of information on the web, not all of it can be trusted thoroughly, especially as it relates to your mind and body. Your best bet is to always see a doctor and stay as far away from WebMD, Wikipedia, and any other medical website.
Richard Netter is an American writer from San Francisco, California who contributes regularly to online medical journals and websites dealing with health care issues.