Are You Relying on the Internet to Diagnose You?

We’ve all been there. It’s late at night and your mind is starting to wander as you get worked up over your latest ailment or symptom. In an attempt to put your concern and curiosity at rest, you open your laptop and type in that Google search. Before you know it, you’ve convinced yourself that you have the worst case scenario, and your symptoms seem to be accelerating by the second.

Cyberchondria is a real term that psychologists use to describe someone who has an obsession with investigating their symptoms (either real or imagined) on the Internet. While an occasional Google search is certainly okay, there are some significant warnings about relying on the Internet instead of a board-certified physician to diagnose your symptoms.

Unfortunately, research shows that women are typically the ones searching for medical advice online. In fact, current studies show that 80% of women investigate wellness information online and 60% of those inquiries are to diagnose a medical condition. If you identify with the women in this statistic, here’s what you need to know.

Just because it is on the Internet, doesn’t mean it is true. Your Google search will likely respond with hundreds of medical websites. It is not uncommon to find errors, completely false information or “facts” that don’t line up with other sites you visit. This can be confusing and outright dangerous if you rely on these sites to guide your treatment plan. In general, it is best to only trust websites that end in “.gov, .edu or .org”. Additionally, scientific and medical journal websites can be depended on for reliable information.

Why are women so quick to turn to the Internet instead of call their doctor?

Convenience is certainly a factor. However, perhaps women are embarrassed to bring up their health conditions to a doctor, or they involve more private topics, such as sex, vaginal discharge or hormonal mood swings. It is important to find a gynecologist that you feel comfortable discussing these issues with, as these are the physicians that are trained and highly experienced in treating women’s health conditions. You can rest assured that at North Pointe OB/GYN Associates, we’ve seen and heard it all. There’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.

Cyberchondria is more likely be harmful instead of helpful. Do your mind and your body a favor and schedule your face to face appointment with one of our board-certified gynecologists in Cumming. In most cases, we can quickly put your mind at ease and initiate an effective treatment plan.  

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