Dr. Google & Self Diagnosis:
“Googling your symptoms is the fastest way to convincing yourself you are sicker than you really are. It can be downright overwhelming.” -Dr. Matt Fontaine
Are you putting your health at risk?
In the age of WebMD, anyone can simply type symptoms into Google and receive an overwhelming amount of information about conditions and treatment options. However, the problem with self-diagnosis through online medical searches isn’t the amount or accuracy of the information, its’ the lack of context and the expertise needed to interpret it.
Although self-diagnosing can be a great place to start, a physician will work with a patient to understand the condition while establishing an overall understanding of the patient’s history and lifestyle to obtain a specific diagnosis and how best to manage their condition. The physician will also outline what their treatment options are along with the potential risks and benefits of those treatments.
Only with your patient-specific information and physician partnership can you make an educated and informed decision regarding your health.
Risks with Self Diagnosis
Lack of Context– online searches lack personal context to interpret your situation.
Treatment Risks– what are your risks/benefits related to treatment options?
Unnecessary Anxiety– information can be confusing, overwhelming, or panic-inducing.
Treatment Delays– Info could dissuade you from seeking medical attention.
Inaccurate Data– 90% of Wikipedia data on medical conditions contains errors.
Limits of Online Research
A well versed patient has the knowledge base on that specific condition similar to that of a second year medical student. Online research can lead to better patient outcomes, but only if patients leverage what they find to engage in a richer, more productive dialogue with their doctor. If you have a nagging problem or chronic pain, call your doctor. Pain is often a lagging indicator. Once pain occurs, you have injury. The sooner you get in to have it looked at and start treatment, the more likely you are to have a faster and more complete recovery.
Dr. Matt Fontaine is the clinic director of Potomac Physical Medicine.
“The latest evidence based research shows that the best outcomes come from integrating manipulation with soft tissue treatment and corrective exercise. That’s our approach at Potomac Physical Medicine.”
-Dr. Matt Fontaine.