Senior Care - How to Provide Elderly Independence

Cyberchondria: What It Is And Why It's Bad For Your Health

by Stephen Silva

You have a little pain in your upper chest, a slight fever, and a headache behind your eyes, so you get on Google and key in your symptom. The next thing you know, you're convinced you're suffering from congestive heart failure, a brain tumor, and possibly pneumonia. The problem is, all you really have is a cold and your headache is because your sinuses are a little clogged. This happens a lot in the age of the internet because information is now more accessible than it has ever been. Unfortunately, this availability can lead to something that is now being called cyberchondria. 

What is cyberchondria?

If you have ever heard of hypochondria, you probably have a general idea of why cyberchondria is. Hypochondria is a psychological tendency to hear about certain illnesses and conditions and assume that must be what you have because your symptoms are similar—even if the symptoms are not relative to a condition at all. Cyberchondria involves anxiety about a person's health being evoked by what they find on the internet, and for some people, this anxiety can be incredibly threatening to their health. 

Is it bad to check your symptoms online?

It really isn't bad to check out your symptoms online if you have something going on that leaves you wondering. However, you also have to keep in mind that the information you find online is not going to be the same as going to a doctor. There are a few reasons why you should never try to self-diagnose using the internet, including:

  • Some sites are filled with false or misleading information 
  • There's more info available about the worst conditions because they are more prevalently written about 
  • Many common symptoms of different conditions overlap with one another 

Why is cyberchondria considered so dangerous?

The biggest danger of pouring over page after page of internet sites and diagnosing yourself is that it can lead you to believe you do not need the help of a doctor because you already know what is wrong. However, getting yourself all worked up because you just know you have something wrong that isn't can also lead you to pay for unnecessary medical testing to see if you are right. 

The bottom line is this: it is great to have so much information available online when it comes to assessing yoru health, but nothing can replace a good old-fashioned doctor visit. .If you have symptoms that you need to be checked right away, find a walk-in clinic to help you out. To learn more, contact a walk-in clinic like West Ocean City Injury & Illness Center