Are you betwixt those who log in to Google all the time you are down with body ache, fever or cold, only to get more puzzled and scared? Many young Indians with smartphones in their hands are falling prey to the “Google-as-your-doctor” phenomenon and the hazardous trend is on the rise in the country, health experts feel.
Although there is nothing erratic in checking your symptoms or trying to find more about your ailment on the internet, they say that one should know where to stop.
The ideal situation is to use search engines only when someone is diagnosed with a certain medical condition and wants to know more about it. The data available on internet should be used to educate oneself rather than trying to find a aid for the disease.
“The biggest problem is that internet is loaded with immense information which could be correct too but then your symptoms could be very much alike to some other disease which may cause confusion. Therefore, correct diagnosis of your health abnormality is very important,” Dr. Satnam Singh Chhabra, head (neuro-spine surgeon) at the Sir Gangaram Hospital here.
He has noted many young Indian adults getting devoted to the internet to look for every little thing, even self-diagnosis.
For any illustration, if one has a health abnormality, then the instant reaction is to Google the symptoms before seeing an expert or a doctor.
According to Dr. (Prof) Raju Vaishya, senior consultant (orthopaedic and joint replacement surgeon) at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, one should be careful of getting trapped into “Google as your doctor” behaviour as this may cause more evil than good.
Dr. R K Singal of the BLK Super-specialty Hospital had an interesting case study to share: “Once a patient in his mid-30s came to me with severe headache. He told me that he anticipate he had a brain tumour. After diagnosis, we found that headache was due to prolonged sore throat and rhinopharyngitis (common cold).”
“The patient visited me after a month of self-diagnosis through internet. Whatever he found on the internet made him admit that he had a brain tumour,” Singal concluded,
Dr. Rahul Gupta, senior neuro and spine surgeon at Fortis Hospital in Noida, is accompanying to many young Indians who come to him with weird health queries after scanning Google.
“Self-medication via the internet can be dangerous. Patients at times do not follow our instruction and waste our time with idiotic questions,” he stressed.
According to Gupta, Google is good when it comes to seeking for a good doctor, checking spellings of a medication and reading about general health-related affairs.
One may think that generalized body aches started with a worsening of mood, but a doctor may elect to do an electrocardiogram for chest pain that reveals likely coronary artery disease, the experts felt.
Are health websites trustworthy when it comes to answering health symptom queries?
“I don’t see any harm in doing that because it’s about your health after all. In fact, a lot of times my patients come back with doubt after surfing about their health abnormality on the internet,” Chhabra said.
So, educate yourself as much before or after you visit your doctor, but let the experts do their job. Let your doctor assign you a treatment well-suited for your ache.
“One should be sensible enough to understand which is an authentic website with relevant content as there are a lot of paid sites which exist only to make business,” Chhabra advised.
Vaishya asked youngsters to share their internet-access knowledge with the doctor but not to force it upon the doctor to follow it.