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The Dangers of Self-Diagnosis

by Rodney Aziz

· self-diagnosis,health,doctors,medical,research

When it comes to healing from any kind of illness whether it is physical or mental, the first step on the road to recovery is having a formal diagnosis. As the saying goes, “the first step to solving a problem is recognizing that there is one.” A formal diagnosis gives someone the idea of their illness and can provide the right roadmap to getting better. Ideally, most people will seek the assistance of their doctor for this kind of information. Through tests, answered questions and previous data from similar situations, they will be able to get to the root of the problem. However, the real problem comes with people skipping the doctor’s office in order to go online and self-diagnose their own diseases. Now, this might seem like a quick process to determine the problem, but it can also be extremely dangerous.

A published report from 2013, showed that the average American consumer spends about an hour each week looking through health information online. Some people are browsing casually; however, there are those who are performing targeted searches where they outline the symptoms they are feeling in hopes to figure out what the concrete issue is. The problem with these results is that search engines usually provide information about the worst case scenario for the situation at the beginning of the results. In fact, Microsoft conducted a study that showed the probability of the word “brain tumor” coming up as a result of the symptom “headache” was 0.26, the same probability that “caffeine withdrawal” received.

The problem is that most of these people making these searches do not fully understand the algorithms that drive the search engines; they assume that whatever they find on the first page is indicative of the disease they have. They should, however, be taking these results with a grain of salt. Wolters Kluwer Health did a study that found that sixty-three percent of those who looked for information online reported they have never misdiagnosed themselves. Pew Research Center found that about half of people who looked online for information online talked to their doctors afterward about what they found. These are some dangerous facts.

Once people feel that have found the correct diagnosis for their problem, they may look to cure it through changes in their diet, and over-the-counter medications. But, if you are working from a misguided assumption, then chances are you will not be taking the right steps to recovery. Another issue is that people will address one problem and fail to understand the true source of the issue which may end up getting worse. So, an incorrect diagnosis can lead to more long-lasting problems.

The internet can be a great source for information if you are looking to learn more about symptoms, and receive general medical information. However, you should seek expert advice from your regular doctor when it comes to diagnosing any problems you may be experiencing. The right diagnosis will provide you a better solution and ultimately benefit you in the long-run.

Dr. Rodney Aziz originally published this article on his website.

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