How patients misdiagnose themselves online
You have cancer!
Well, Google thinks you do anyway -- because no matter what symptoms you type into the search engine, the results will connect it to cancer.
Blurry vision? Cancer!
Got an itch? Cancer!
Tired all the time? Do you even have to ask?
If you've ever used Google yourself to track down medical information (and who hasn't?) you've probably had your own search engine-induced cancer scare at some point.
Obviously, you're not alone. In fact, a new survey out of the UK finds that a quarter of all women have thought they had a disease they didn't really have thanks to "Dr. Google" -- and number one on the list was breast cancer.
Number two? All other cancers.
I'm surprised the number was so low -- because it seems like 100 percent of men and women alike end up convinced they have cancer and any number of other diseases (often rare and deadly ones) after a Google search.
What makes this self-diagnosis so much worse than just a false disease scare is that many people take the next step and medicate themselves based on what Dr. Google says -- and at least 10 percent of women in the survey experienced side effects because of the drugs they took for a condition they didn't even have.
(Again, that number sounds low to me.)
The survey was funded by the maker of a drug for bacterial vaginosis, a condition women often mistakenly believe is thrush based on search engine results. And indeed, thrush was the number three condition on the list.
But really, you shouldn't be self-diagnosing -- and certainly not self-medicating -- for thrush, vaginosis, cancer, or anything else Dr. Google thinks you have.
The Internet is a tool to inform and empower patients. You can use the information you find online to question your doctor's diagnoses and treatments -- but you can't question him if you don't see him in the first place.
For a good example of something to question your own doctor about, keep reading.