When you wake up in the morning and have a scratchy throat, fever, and congestion what do you do? Do you get up and go through your day as normal, do you grab some medicine, or do you go on the internet to see what ails you? If you do the latter you could be a cyberchondriac. If you check the internet for every symptom you could end up misinforming and misdiagnosing yourself. Doctors are recommending that you stay away from the internet when you are sick for this very reason.
The internet has a wealth of knowledge on any subject that you are looking for. You can very easily log in to sites such as WebMD and find out what number of things your symptoms could be but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. The Belgian government began to see an upswing in self-diagnosis of serious illnesses and slight hysteria due to internet searching. They created an ad that looks serious when it starts with the line, “I have a deadly disease, and I’m going to die in six weeks”. After this line the ad begins to turn into a comedic ad where the actor speaks about how he found out that he had a deadly disease because he Googled his symptom of an eye twitch.
The Belgian government also went so far as to create a website where people can get factual information about different medical symptoms and such instead of a list of hundreds of possible causes for symptoms. They stated that 75% of people go to the internet when they are sick to try and figure out what is wrong with them. The website comes up at the top of the Google search page telling people that they shouldn’t be Googling their illness but should see a medical professional instead.
Belgium of course isn’t the only country that has this issue. A study that just came out shows that people spend an average of 52 hours a year looking up medical information to try and self-diagnose. On a positive note however the study also found out that a patient’s relationship with their doctor can be improved by doing research.