Paging Dr. Google
Medical information on the internet can easily create confusion and anxiety. So be careful when you whip out your laptop or IPad to look up your latest little symptom. The internet can provide you a lot of helpful information and it’s important to be informed about your health and advocate for good care. However, we have to be careful not to “fall down the rabbit hole” and spend too much time reading contradictory information or personal stories that scare us silly.
Here are some strategies for success:
– Look for reputable sources: in general, sites operated by university medical centers and major research hospitals, like Mayo Clinic, are good places to search. At Kid’s First Pediatrics – we refer our parents to kidshealth.org often, it’s a good resource.
– Resist over identifying with what you learn and monitor your response. If you’re getting worried while you read online, you should stop reading. Take a break and a walk. Ask yourself how much you actually know about what’s going on. Have you been to the doctor or had any lab work? Dr. Google does not substitute seeing an actual healthcare professional.
– Keep things in context! Everyone’s 1st hand account on a disease or illness is different, as everyone’s body is different and can respond in many ways.
– Focus on general information – inform yourself in general about a particular diagnosis. Visit reputable sites and keep in mind that your symptoms and solutions may differ.
– Call a nurse hotline instead of Google. Nurse hotlines allow you to talk to a medical professional, most of the time, for free. A nurse can ask you questions about your symptoms and recommend the best course of action, which may mean to make an appointment with your doctor.
Sarah Caudle, PA-C