Finding medical advice online is easy; it can be found all over the internet. There are websites dedicated to it, there are doctors and nurses providing it on social media and there are news sources sharing content. The problem is that much of it is questionable, at best. But even if the information itself isn’t questionable, you can't be sure it's the right information for the issue you’re dealing with. Because of that, there are a few reasons why you should probably avoid most medical information you see online — or at least avoid making major decisions on it.
First and foremost, the information you’re seeing isn’t coming from your specific doctor. You have a relationship with your doctor and they know you. They’re familiar with treatments you’ve gone through, what your history is and any negative reactions you’ve had. Advice online cannot account for this. Some suggestions online that might work for one person may not be a good idea for you based on your personal medical history. Treatments aren’t universal, and your doctor knows your history enough to know whether a treatment might be something that could work for you and can offer counsel on the risks involved specifically for you.
There’s an old saying: just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it. This is true for seeking medical advice online for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that you could cause yourself unnecessary stress.
A misdiagnosis could cause you to worry, and the stress hormones that get released in periods of duress can cause numerous negative reactions in your body. This is even truer if you’re already ill or taking long-term medications. This could cause hormone levels to fluctuate and have severe ramifications for your overall health.
Getting advice online can be helpful but not if it leads you to the wrong diagnosis and plan of action. If you think you have an ulcer and it turns out to be heartburn, you won’t treat it properly. Similarly, if you think you have something small but, in reality, it’s a serious issue, you might make a curable problem an incurable one by delaying treatment. Time is a valuable asset, especially when treating a disease, so don’t waste it chasing the wrong thing because of something you read on the internet.
Getting information online about medical issues you might be facing isn’t all bad, though. If done right, online research can be helpful. If used as intended, online information can give you some options to go over with your doctor or caregiver. It can also help you eliminate possibilities or unfounded fears.
For example, you might be worried you've come down with an illness because you heard about it on the news. A quick online visit to WebMD or the Mayo Clinic's website can help you see that you don't have a single symptom of that disease. That can be reassuring.
Outside of those cut-and-dried cases, it's better to take some precautions when researching medical information.
Your doctor and their office staff will never be mad at you for asking questions about your health. In fact, the opposite is likely true. They'd much rather have you ask than operate based on an assumption.
Hickory Villa assisted living community is a great place to live a vibrant, healthy lifestyle in later years. We provide a number of wellness services, including ensuring residents have access to staff who can assist with chronic disease management, medication management and other wellness concerns. If you have questions, feel free to bring them up to the staff, who can help you find an answer.
If you do turn to the internet to find out more about a condition, check your symptoms or find a group to support you through a surgery or other health care issue, make sure you take everything you read with a grain of salt. That's especially true on social media. Just because you saw it on Facebook doesn't make it true, so double and triple check online information before you put any stock in it.
After all, if you went to a new doctor and he told you something you'd never heard before, you'd probably ask for a second opinion, right? It's definitely a good idea to get a second (and more trustworthy, expert) opinion about any medical advice or information you gather online.
There’s nothing wrong with finding out as much information on a subject as you can, especially when it comes to your health. But keep in mind that there are some pitfalls to be aware of when it comes to diagnosing and treating any chronic conditions or acute illnesses. Online medical advice is faceless, so don’t trust your health to someone you can't even see.