Tuesday March 20, 2018

Stop treating Google as your doctor


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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  • 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

Four hacks for women’s wellness

Yoga is known to be the ultimate healer for the soul and body. Pixabay
  • For most women, wellness takes a back seat
  • It is very important for women to take care of health
  • There are very simple things they can do to take care of themselves

Wellness takes a backseat for most women, what with a hectic schedule taking care of work, home, and all the people in their lives. This Women’s Day, encourage the women in your life to make themselves a priority and practice these simple wellness tips to improve their overall well-being.

It is  very important for women to take care of themselves. Instagram
It is very important for women to take care of themselves. Instagram

Dr Hariprasad, Ayurveda Expert, The Himalaya Drug Company, recommends the following tips to help women become healthier without having to take too much time out of their busy schedule.

Get enough sleep: The function of sleep is to not only relax the body, but also rest and restore the mind. It is necessary to heal and repair your heart and blood vessels. While you can function for a while without getting the necessary amount of sleep every day, it will eventually take a toll on you. Commit to sleeping a minimum of seven hours a day while aiming for eight, and you will feel yourself getting healthier and happier in a short amount of time. This will help you achieve both mental and physical wellness, and your mind and body will be at ease.

Also Read: It is very important for women to take care of themselves. Instagram

Keep up energy levels: Use an energy booster like chyavanaprasha for that extra push you need to achieve your daily goals. Chyavanaprasha, which has amalaki (Indian gooseberry), gives that supplementary dose of antioxidants, in addition to boosting your energy levels. Along with this, try quick exercises like stretching and jogging to keep those endorphins flowing.

Practice preventive care: Long-term wellness is a better approach than seeking short-term solutions for the problem at hand. Having Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia) can help you practice preventive care by building your immunity. According to Ayurveda texts and modern research, Guduchi increases immunity against infections by increasing the effectiveness of disease-fighting white blood cells. These fight infections and influence various other immune effector cells, ensuring early recovery. Including Guduchi in your daily diet will help increase the body’s resistance to stress and illness. It can help reduce the chances of facing health problems altogether, rather than simply resorting to curative measures when it arises.

yoga asanas
Women wellbeing is often ignored. Pixabay

Set aside some me-time: Take some time out for yourself during the day to just breathe and reflect on your day. You can do this in a structured manner using yoga and meditation techniques, but the important part is to consistently carve time out from your day for yourself. Setting aside even 10 minutes will help you relax and feel more in control of your day. You will feel the frustrations of your day melt away, leaving you to face the rest of the day with a calmer mind and a more positive outlook. IANS