Thursday January 18, 2018

Stop treating Google as your doctor

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New Delhi: Are you among those who log into Google every time you are down with body ache, fever or cold, only to get more confused and scared? Many young Indians with smartphones in their hands are falling prey to the “Google-as-your-doctor” phenomenon and the dangerous trend is on the rise in the country, health experts feel.

Although there is nothing wrong in checking your symptoms or trying to find more about your illness 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 information available on the internet should be used to educate oneself rather than trying to find a cure for the disease.

“The biggest problem is that the internet is loaded with enormous information which could be correct too but then your symptoms could be similar 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, said.

He has observed many young Indian adults getting hooked to the internet to look for every little thing, even self-diagnosis.

For instance, if one has a health abnormality, then the instant reaction is to Google the symptoms before seeing an expert or a doctor.

“But one should be careful as people normally look for symptoms to get rid of curiosity and anxiety but to the contrary, it just worsens the scenario and leaves them more anxious,” Chhabra said.

According to Dr (Prof) Raju Vaishya, senior consultant (orthopaedic and joint replacement surgeon) at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, one should beware of getting trapped into “Google-as-your-doctor” behaviour as this may cause more harm than good.

“Yes, there is an increasing surge in young Indians with smartphones who google common health symptoms. I find more such patients coming to me with queries related to hand, wrist and elbow,” Vaishya said.

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 a severe headache. He told me that he thought he had a brain tumour. After diagnosis, we found that the headache was due to a prolonged sore throat and rhinopharyngitis (common cold).”

“The patient visited me after a month of self-diagnosis through the internet. Whatever he found on the internet made him believe that he had a brain tumour,” Singal said.

According to Singal, people in the 25-40 age group are more hooked on to the internet and such self-diagnosis only increases one’s anxiety.

Dr Rahul Gupta, a senior neuro and spine surgeon at Fortis Hospital in Noida, is attending 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 advice and waste our time with silly questions,” he stressed.

According to Gupta, Google is good when it comes to searching for a good doctor, checking spellings of a medication and reading about general health-related issues.

Another danger of self-diagnosis is that you may think that there is more wrong with you than there actually is.

“For example, if you had insomnia, inattention and depression, you may believe that you have a sleep disorder or major depression. Thus, you may make things worse by worrying more as well,” Singal noted.

Self-diagnosis is also a problem when you are in a state of denial about your symptoms.

One may think that generalised body aches started with a worsening of mood, but a doctor may elect to do an electrocardiogram for chest pain that reveals possible 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 queries 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 prescribe you a treatment well-suited for your ailment.

“One should be wise 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-acquired knowledge with the doctor but not to force it upon the doctor to follow it.

“Trust your doctor more than Google,” Gupta summed up. (IANS), (image courtesy: syndicateroom.com)

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Copyright 2015 NewsGram

  • devika todi

    this has major relevance in today’s world. it is a common notion, that if you have common cold and you end up googling it, if the internet is to believed blindly, you could be suffering from cancer!
    leave the job to the experts. do not trust everything you see on the internet.

  • devika todi

    this has major relevance in today’s world. it is a common notion, that if you have common cold and you end up googling it, if the internet is to believed blindly, you could be suffering from cancer!
    leave the job to the experts. do not trust everything you see on the internet.

Next Story

12 things you must know about cold drinks in India

If you're addicted to cold drinks, chances are that you are not the only one.

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By Ruchika Verma

  • Cold drinks are one of the lesser known addictions in India
  • Sodas or cold drinks be it cola or non-cola can have harmful effects on us
  • The key is to consume cold drinks in moderation, and not excessively

If you’re addicted to cold drinks, chances are that you are not the only one. Everyone loves the sugary, carbonated taste of cold drinks, especially during summers.

Cold drinks tastes good, but they have some harmful effects on us too. VOA
Cold drinks tastes good, but they have some harmful effects on us too. VOA

Even in winters, we don’t really hesitate in consuming our favourite cold drinks. However, it is important to know their effect on our health and environment. Here is the list of 12 things you must know about cold drinks:

Obesity

Increase consumption of soda or cold drinks is said to one of the major reasons for high obesity rates and other health problems associated with it, as per some health experts. One can of soda contains about 150 calories, which if consumed regularly, can increase your weight by 6 kgs per year.

Sodas and cold drinks can cause obesity and diabetes. VOA
Sodas and cold drinks can cause diseases like obesity and diabetes. VOA

Causes Diabetes

High consumption of cold drinks can cause diseases like, Type 2 Diabetes. Use of artificial sweetener leads to diabetes and thus children and sugar patients should refrain from consuming soft drinks in excessive amount.

Tooth decay

Cold drinks can cause tooth decay and no, not even your toothpastes and toothbrush can save you from this. The acid in cold drinks can damage your teeth more than sugar. The acid present  in soft drinks weakens tooth enamel, which leads to cavities and tooth decay.

Also Read : 5 Drinks Which Will Help You Lose Weight

Cold drinks can cause a lots of harm to our body and its immunity. Wikimedia Commons
Cold drinks can cause a lots of harm to our body and its immunity. Wikimedia Commons

Caffeine dependency

Many carbonated drinks, be it cola and non-cola, contain caffeine. Caffeine is addictive and can cause insomnia, irritability and other related symptoms in some people. If one is already having problems with caffeine, they should avoid cold drinks as much as they can.

Nutrition deficiency

It may sound quite weird, but it all boils down to the fact that sodas and cold drinks are simply not healthy. Many people have  a habit of choosing soda over other beverages like water, milk, juice, etc. If you are one of those people too, chances are, you’re not getting the required amount of nutrients into your body.

One should go for healthier alternatives of cold drinks. Wikimedia Commons
One should go for healthier alternatives of soft drinks. Wikimedia Commons

Weak bones

Not getting required nutrients will obviously have an effect on your health. However, cold drinks can affect your bones as well. Studies suggest that excess consumption of soft drinks which contains acid, can reduce the calcium quotient of our bones by preventing the nutrient from getting absorbed.

Artificial sweeteners

This should not really come as a surprise. All cold drinks have artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are not necessarily unhealthy. However, recent studies show that long-term consumption can damage our sugar taste receptors, leading us to crave more sugar oriented food.

Also Read : Sugary drinks responsible for 1 in 200 deaths

Cold drinks can cause tooth decay, obesity, etc. Wikimedia Commons
Cold drinks can cause tooth decay, obesity, etc. Wikimedia Commons

Slows Metabolism

When tired, try not to consume cold drinks and instead go for fresh juice or water. One can of soft drink can decrease your metabolism rate by 2 times. It also destroys fat burning enzymes leading to obesity.
Affects Reproduction Capabilities
Few studies have suggested that the use of artificial sweeteners in cold drinks, like saccharin and sucralose can affect reproduction capabilities in humans. It can decrease the chances of pregnancy in women. The presence of caffeine in cold drinks can also decrease the sperm count in men, it may affect the quality of the sperm too.
There are many brands which are famous in India and are regularly consumed. Wikimedia Commons
There are many brands which are famous in India and are regularly consumed. Wikimedia Commons
Top Selling Brands of cold drinks in India
In India, a cold drink is consumed every minute by someone. The most popular brands of cold drinks in India are, Pepsi, Coca Cola, Thumbs Up. Other drinks include Limca, Mountain Dew and Sprite, which have lemon essence in them. There are other brands like Fanta and Miranda too which are orange flavoured and less preferred drinks.
Controversies
Controversies and cold drinks are almost synonymous. There have been many controversies which revolve around cold drinks and its effects on our health. Concerns over usage of water, accusations over pesticides and sweeteners, and also, the general concerns about how these drinks are unhealthy, keeps on plaguing these drinks.
Coca Cola is known to spend a huge amount of money on its advertisement campaigns. Wikimedia Common
Coca Cola is known to spend a huge amount of money on its advertisement campaigns. Wikimedia Common
Advertising Expenses 
Cold drink brands hire the most famous celebrities to be their brand ambassadors. Their campaigns are often huge and present ideas which are larger than life. A lot of money is being spent on the advertising of these soft drinks. Coca Cola normally spends up to $3.499 billion in a year on its advertising campaigns.