Health

One symptom and a dose of paranoia fuels cyberchondriacs


CyberchondriacDo you search the Internet for solutions to almost every single problem you encounter? Before you become defensive or feel bad, let me confess that I do. From distinguishing flowers from weeds in my garden, to troubleshooting my pool vacuum, to diagnosing my aches and pains, Google is equivalent to Target... it's a one-stop-shop. And according to a recent poll, there are a lot of people who use the Internet to determine their medical health status. Take a look at this story from News.com: "Fixated on health sites? Join the cyberchondriacs."

Here are some stats from the nationwide telephone poll of 1,010 adults, conducted by Harris Interactive:

  • The number of so-called cyberchondriacs seeking health information on the Web has soared to about 160 million in 2006 -- a 37 percent rise over two years
  • Cyberchondriacs now represent 84 percent of all online adults, up from last year's 80 percent, and 72 percent in 2005
  • Cyberchondriacs on average search the Internet almost six times per month for health information and the majority find what they are looking for
  • Eighty-six percent of the respondents said the health information they found online was reliable
  • Nearly 60 percent of people who found what they were looking for on the Internet discussed the information with their doctors at least once in the last year

I think that it's great that people are educating themselves and are able to communicate with their physicians about possible diagnoses and health concerns that they have. The flip side of the coin is that people can literally worry themselves sick with all of the information that's out there, just waiting for someone with a symptom or two and a good dose of paranoia. Are you a cyberchondriac, or do you leave your medical ailments for health professionals to diagnose?

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

4 comments
Sonja Thompson
Sonja Thompson

Are you a cyberchondriac, or do you leave your medical ailments for health professionals to diagnose?

mpruett
mpruett

You are the one who knows your own body. I learned at a young age that paying attention to you and giving the doc pertinent information makes a big difference. I have visited too many doctors to count in the last 5 years (thanks to the military, not cyberchondria). While I want a doctor to give me a good suggestions, I get tired of being told it's a minor condition and shooed away. I do research, but I also listen first to the doctor, then ask why they think it's one condition over another. I question them, and learn a lot more by doing it that way. One thing to avoid is panicking when you do your own research. You may have a symptom, but when you have a runny nose, it could be a cold or it could be allergies. It doesn't automatically mean what you are currently reading about is exactly what is troubling you!

Gone Fishing
Gone Fishing

A survey showing how may people rush to the doctor After finding information on the internet that appeared to say they were going to die or had cancer etc Only to be told by the doctor it was not life threatening It may be to hard to get any truth Who would want to admit to doing that? Don?t laugh you may make that mistake one day It?s easy to overhear a conversation between two doctors and think its about you But you are allowed to laugh at yourself So carry on laughing hee hee ha ha Edit to add this and fix bl***y typos Damm forgot to answer the Question I leave it to my doctor when I need him It?s to easy to think its bad The doctor will give an independent opinion without extra emotion They are trained to help people deal with possible bad news So I use a Doctor Nothing worse than trying to read the screen when it?s covered with (Well you really don?t want to know)

midniteone
midniteone

and too many interesting illnesses! my wife and I are both disabled and each have long term health issues and we check the internet sources about new developments or in setting up our list of key questions before a formal consultation is due. there's about half a dozen official sites which are well worth working through and which aren't trying to sell you something... on the other hand, new symptoms or apparently unrelated illness and the doctor gets it to themselves to sort out. the only time I broke this rule was when I developed breathlessness and saw a substitute doctor who was happy to agree it was a chest infection. well it wasn't, it was a blood clot in the lung, and I wound up in A&E (ER in the States?) then in hospital for 10 days. No more leading the witness, that's for sure...

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