I am sure you went on Google to find out why your hand is twitching in the past few months. I know I have!
Self diagnosis is the process of diagnosing, or identifying, medical conditions in oneself.
A.k.a. [way to create a stressful life] which will cause more symptoms for you to diagnose.
With the advent of technology and the .coms, we have become so reliable on websites to tell us why our heads hurt, that we have forgotten why doctors exist. Not long ago, if you had some form of discomfort it was good to have your doctor on speed dial to ensure you could book the earliest appointment. However, many of us go on for days, months and even years nowadays without addressing our medical problems, because Google told you what the problem is and gave you home remedies to cure it.
Google, Webmd, Healthline, About.com and all those websites can fucking freak you out. I have had some unexplained stomach pains for the past few years, and despite doctor visits (yes I went to the doctor after searching Google), I am still left not knowing what is wrong with me. But, when I go on Google, it makes me even question why I have health insurance, because my doctor cannot find the source of my ailment, yet Google can in a millisecond tell me it could be the onset of:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Urinary Tract Infection
Pregnancy (mind you, I specified I am male in the search criteria)
and just ordinary Cramps (due to dehydration, strenuous exercise, or lack of muscle use)
All of which, my doctor claims I do not have. So who is on the ball here. Google whose algorithms and findings have been gathered from millions of websites over the web, ridden with research and papers from millions of medical professionals, college professors, scientists, biologists, quacks and a random Chinese guy in his Shanghai basement. Or, my doctor who went to a prestigious college, doused himself in black coffee and sleepless nights, plus struggled to start a practice from the ground up?
Tough one indeed!
The web provides a valuable resource for the everyday man to get a heads up on what could be causing his insomnia, but it cannot beat real life medical testing and diagnosis to really find out what is going on in your body.
In a Harvard Gazette 2015 article entitled Self-Diagnosis on Internet Not Always a Good Practice, Ateev Mehrotra, associate professor of health care policy and medicine at HMS and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in New York states;
These tools may be useful in patients who are trying to decide whether they should get to a doctor quickly, but in many cases, users should be cautious and not take the information they receive from online symptom checkers as gospel.
You never know who submitted the information online that claims you may have the onset of pneumonia or syphilis. However, with a reputable doctor in an office, you have more accountability and someone to hold responsible in cases of bad medical decisions or diagnoses. You cannot blame Google for giving you the information that you voluntarily asked for. Even Google’s disclaimer states;
The Future of Medicine Will Increasingly Involve Technology, like it or not…
With the rapid growth of technology and its pivot into almost every industry, the field of medicine is not immune. Today, doctors are using technology to communicate with peers and patients around the world to solve medical issues, find cures and help people in need. Online medical sites like ZocDoc are quickly becoming online hospitals where patients have doctors for almost any ailment at the touch of a finger anywhere in the world. Technology in medicine cannot be denied, as our future, as much as we may dislike it, will become more intertwined with machines and computer algorithms governing our behaviors and even our diagnoses. Shit, a few years from now robots will be performing our surgeries (they are far more accurate than men anyway) as you can read here.
Google’s algorithms will only get better as they aim to continue leading in technology that defines our lives. So, one day soon, you may be able to breathe on your phone and Google tells you will have the flu in the next two days due to micro-organisms on your breath; which is not far-fetched, especially with their recent foray into hardware. Never underestimate where tech will take us.
That is in the future however, Google is no doctor today…
Google serves an undeniable purpose in modern society as we know it. It has quickly become the driver of knowledge, social culture and the solving of everyday Fahrenheit to Celsius problems. But, Google is no doctor. It did not go to a school to study the body and the things that affect it. It’s algorithms and backend technology does not care about curing your aches and pains. Google, at this very moment, serves one purpose only…to provide you with information. It is the initial point of contact in the queue of reasons as to why you should visit a certified professional to address your problem.
One day, I am sure I will have to edit this article when Google announces their “launch into medical diagnosis.” But, as of now, if you are experiencing symptoms and Google gives you a list of the possibilities, go see your doctor to narrow them down.