The Problem With Diagnosing Health Issues Yourself

With a ton of medical websites available on the Internet, it’s tempting to look up your symptoms and try to determine what’s ailing you. Whether you’re worried about frequent headaches, a growth you’ve recently noticed or a bad case of toenail fungus, making a beeline for the nearest search engine might seem like the best way to figure out what’s going on with your body. If you choose to take this approach, proceed with caution. There are quite a few problems associated with doing a self-diagnosis via the Internet.

Visiting Questionable Websites

Not all medical websites are created equal. There are definitely reliable ones available, such as hospital websites, medical university websites and the websites of professional medical organizations, but there are also plenty of unreliable ones. Stay away from websites that provide medical information that hasn’t been written or verified by medical professionals. The information you find on these sites can be far from accurate and could even be potentially dangerous. Stick to reputable websites, but don’t rely on these for a diagnosis either. Your best bet is to discuss your health issues with your doctor.

Making Yourself Sick With Worry

You might have heard about the tendency of first-year medical students to fall into the trap of self-diagnosing themselves once they start learning about all kinds of diseases and disorders. You could end up in that same trap after looking up information on health issues online. Keep in mind that even if you’re experiencing one or two symptoms that also happen to be signs of a serious illness, it doesn’t mean you have it. Many symptoms can be caused by a wide range of minor and major health conditions. Your doctor can run tests and rule out those more serious possible causes.

Not Getting Medical Help When You Need It

After reading about the potential causes of your current health issue, you might decide that it’s really nothing to worry about and you don’t really need to see the doctor. This can be dangerous, depending on what your symptoms are. Ignoring a suspicious mole or not getting checked for those recurring headaches could mean big trouble down the road. You could have an underlying condition that you won’t be able to diagnose on your own, and it might be one that requires treatment before it gets worse. When in doubt, always see your doctor for a professional diagnosis.

The author Sandy Getzky is an associate editor at ProveMyMeds, a public health and education startup focused on producing helpful resources concerning the treatment of common ailments.

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