My name is Hannah, and I am horribly guilty of using the internet to Google symptoms…
Phew… I’m so glad I got that one off my chest.
Apparently, I’m not alone in the searching for symptoms though! Lloyds Pharmacy have commissioned a survey into the UK’s health searching habits and have found that 81% of people have searched for their symptoms too.
There are so many benefits to using a search engine (or consulting a diagnostic tool like this one from Lloyds: https://onlinedoctor.lloydspharmacy.com/) to work out what’s wrong with you – or your family.
When H-Bear was in the process of being diagnosed with his Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA), the dietician recommended switching him to soya-based products as an alternative. What she hadn’t told me was that he may well be allergic to soya too! So when he started displaying the same symptoms as a reaction to milk I consulted Dr Google, and found that he was probably having a reaction to the soya! Without the internet, I probably would have waited a while for another dietician appointment, and he would have continued to be in pain.
Another example of the internet saving us, was when Busby had Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD). As new parents we hadn’t come across it before, and had no idea why she was off her food and had spots on her hands. The internet helped me diagnose her, and also prevented us from taking a potentially contagious toddler to the Doctors surgery, where she possibly would have spread the virus.
The internet also helped with my initial Endometriosis diagnosis, and meant that I could go to the Doctor informed about the treatment path that lay ahead.
As with anything, there are obviously cons to searching for your symptoms! I have a few family members and friends who work in emergency departments. They often encounter patients who have searched for their symptoms and have (consequently) totally freaked out at their search results. The majority of the time the patient is fine, but they have used up the time of a busy department that could have seen a patient who really needed emergency care.
It’s about being sensible with the knowledge you gain from your search. For example, illnesses such as Cancer or a Brain Tumour will pop up with a variety of symptoms, so do some more research before jumping to conclusions, or going to A&E.
We are so lucky to have the amazing NHS in the UK, and if using an online tool can help take some of the pressure off the overworked, underpaid staff then I’m all for it!
Do you use the internet to help you diagnose?
*Collaborative post. All views and opinions expressed in this post are my own.*