“If you are one of those people who find out about any pain, symptom or medical concept, you could be a cyberchondriac.”
It is estimated that in some First World countries about 80% of the population that feels sick consult the web before visiting a specialist. Is that today with just one click we can find thousands of articles about each ailment and even chat with people who are already suffering. Moreover, you can know what each medicine is for, the doses and where to get them, which makes people self-medicate more frequently. And that is dangerous because it can cause tragic mistakes.
For example, if you have a headache and nausea and look for those symptoms on Google you will see more than half a million related articles. Because they are attributable to different diseases: from a migraine to diabetes, going through hypertension and pregnancy.
The main cause of this social phenomenon is the ease of finding information, but there is another reason for people to go to the network first and then to a doctor. Several studies argue that this is essentially due to the patient’s need to know more about their disease, because doctors rarely have time to explain better the reason for the disease, treatment and prognosis. If before the norm was to dedicate at least 20 minutes to each patient to make the clinical history, the physical test, the diagnosis and the treatment, at present and due to the high demand the time has diminished, and this implies that the doctor has less time to talk about other aspects or listen a little more to their patients.
On the Internet there are very serious pages about medicine, but most of it is only about unscientific advertising and forums where people tell their own experiences. Some countries have taken advantage of the computer demand to reach patients, through applications on their cell phones, to give more information about their diagnosis or improve their health, healthy diets, recommendations for exercise, etc.
A consultation on the web will never replace the doctor. So many years of study and the experience of caring for sick people will always be safer than looking for information on the net.