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5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Self-Diagnose

Published on 20th March 2022
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People use the internet to self-diagnose their medical symptoms, but is that a good idea? A study of research data for the period May 1, 2017, to April 30, 2018, found that an average of 15.49 percent searched online for information about their symptoms before they decided to get a medical diagnosis.
5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Self-Diagnose
5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Self-Diagnose

People use the internet to self-diagnose their medical symptoms, but is that a good idea? A study of research data for the period May 1, 2017, to April 30, 2018, found that an average of 15.49 percent searched online for information about their symptoms before they decided to get a medical diagnosis. There were 20 medical conditions for which search data was collected on Americans. They included conditions like gout and degenerative disc disease. Other studies found a much higher rate with one indicating 70 percent.

Self Diagnosing is Not Recommended

The number of people going online to self-diagnose is increasing, partially triggered by the pandemic forcing people to stay home. A survey by Harmony Healthcare IT found that 43 percent of millennials are ignoring a health issue, 34 percent skipped medical checkups and 69 percent searched Google for health advice rather than visiting a doctor. They used medical websites, news articles, YouTube, health apps and more.

The medical profession refers to the internet’s health websites as Dr. Google because so many people go online for health information. Is self-diagnosing bad? It can be very bad when you have a medical condition that is difficult to diagnose without medical testing or when you make a wrong self-diagnosis. You can worsen your condition by using the wrong home remedy or deciding to ignore the medical condition based on an inaccurate diagnosis.

Reasons Self-Diagnosing is Not a Good Idea

Following are five reasons why you shouldn’t self-diagnose.

1.   Unnecessary worry

A self-diagnosis can easily lead to even more worry than the symptoms were already triggering. The additional stress and anxiety can worsen symptoms, like fatigue and muscle pain. Anxiety can also worsen the medical condition itself because your body is constantly releasing stress hormones that negatively impact the body.

For example, research has demonstrated that prolonged stress interferes with the ability of immune cells to regulate inflammation. If you have a medical condition involving inflammation, there is a good chance you will experience a higher level of inflammation which aggravates the medical condition even more.

Mental health is also negatively impacted when worry escalates. Knowing exactly what you are dealing with is important to managing physical and mental health. It is important to have a doctor do diagnostic testing and develop a specific treatment plan.

2.   Conflicting information

There is a lot of conflicting information on the internet. A Rutgers-New Brunswick study had some people read conflicting articles on the benefits of eating whole-grain foods while others read consistent information. The people reading conflicting online health recommendations were left confused and untrusting by research and scientists. This could make it difficult for them to make good health-related decisions.

There is also the danger that you may accept a false assurance. When health information is conflicting, you could end up choosing information that seems to best fit what you hoped to find and recommended remedies that are easiest to manage.

3.   Symptoms could be related to multiple underlying conditions

One of the dangers of a self-diagnosis is that symptoms could be related to unsuspected underlying conditions. For example, neck pain could be due to cervical disc degeneration, or it could be radiating pain from a heart condition.

4.  Missed diagnosis

A missed diagnosis could lead to wrong home treatments or no treatments, and the medical condition and/or symptoms get worse. You lose a lot of time that is better spent treating the correct medical condition. For example, leg pain and cramping are self-diagnosed as over-exertion or a pulled muscle when the symptoms are due to a missed diagnosis of spinal stenosis or an unsuspected sports injury.

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Self-Diagnose

5.   Lack of quality control

Health websites and symptom tracker tools are not government regulated and most are not reviewed by physicians or other qualified medical personnel. The websites are not transparent about the sources of their information either. The result of an online search may lead to using unreliable sources, relying on incorrect or false information and experiencing confusion.

A Harvard Medical School study reviewed 23 sites and only one-third presented the right diagnosis as the first option. Only half of the health tool apps listed the right diagnosis in the first three options.

See a Doctor for Accurate Diagnosis

Don’t self-diagnose! The health websites and apps may be useful only after getting a proper diagnosis from a doctor. The platforms can remind patients to exercise, track sleep patterns and take their medication. Post-diagnosis is about healing and living the highest quality of life possible. A doctor’s diagnosis should always be the first step and not the last when experiencing worrisome symptoms.

Sapna pain clinic specialists use state-of-the-art medical technology to identify the source of symptoms and to develop an effective treatment plan for the medical condition, including helping you get relief from sports and fitness injuries.



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