Sick? Don’t Go Here for Medical Advice

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By: Krystle Crossman

Have you ever felt like you are experiencing symptoms of something but don’t want to go to the doctor just yet so you turn to the internet to self-diagnose? Don’t do this. This is one of the worst things that you can do for yourself, especially if you are using Wikipedia.

Ten researchers took to the internet to see just how factual some of the articles about certain serious diseases were. The diseases that they researched were:

– Diabetes
– Hypertension
– Cancer
– Heart disease
– Trauma-related disorders
– Mental disorders
– Hyperlipidemia
– Back problems
– Osteoarthritis
– COPD

These diseases are some of the most costly in the US. They turned to Wikipedia to see how factual the signs/symptoms listed were and how factual the information about the disease or disorder itself was. They chose the most in-depth articles on the site. They went through the articles and fact checked them against peer-written articles published within the last five years.

What they found after combing through was that out of the ten articles they looked at, nine had information that was either inaccurate or contradicting. The scariest part is that not only to patients that want to self-diagnose come to these pages full of wildly inaccurate information, but doctors do as well. A recent study found that between 47% and 70% of doctors consulted Wikipedia at one time or another when dealing with a medical case.

While you can certainly look up symptoms online and get a general idea of some questions to ask, internet research is not a definitive diagnostic tool. Most of the time you will end up having symptoms that are common with a myriad of diseases which leads you down the wrong path. Always consult a doctor if you feel that something is wrong.

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