Paging Dr. Internet

I heard that medical students become pretty serious hypochondriacs during their time when they’re in school. It seems that once people start learning about the symptoms of diseases, all of a sudden they start to think they fit the description. Of courseyou have cancer because you have a headache. It has nothing to do with the ridiculous stress, awful diet, and lack of sleep you’re actually putting yourself through. It’s an imaginary tumor pressing on your skull.

It’s pretty much the same with the internet. You have a weird rash and you make the mistake of looking up rash pictures on the internet (don’t do that unless you have a strong stomach). Now you’re convinced you’ve been bitten by a black widow and your skin is going to turn black and rot. Or you’ve got MRSA and you’re going to die. Or something.

Then there are those online symptom checkers. You know what I’m talking about. It asks you stuff like what kind of pain you have and it gives you choices. All of a sudden, now it is a stabbing pain. Or, come to think of it, my arm does hurt. It’s all power of suggestion. I’ve never filled out one of those where it wasn’t all, “OMG!! Get to the ER!” and I’m staring at the screen in disbelief and thinking, “But I just wanted to know if I might have pink eye.”

The worst for me is when the doctor prescribes me something and I go home and look it up. I guess for some people, this is OK. It makes them educated about their healthcare and their medications. Not me. I end up freaking myself out that I’m going to get every single side effect.Then I usually end up convinced that I’d rather not take the medication—the side effects always seem worse than whatever the medication was prescribed for in the first place.

And that brings me to the whole point of this post: I recommend actually talking to a medical professional when you have healthcare concerns. I can call, visit, or email my doctor when I think something is wrong. I’ll talk to a pharmacist if I am prescribed a medication I am not familiar with. I do whatever it takes not to fall down the internet diagnosis rabbit hole. Don’t let the internet be part of your healthcare plan because the internet doesn’t actually care about you. And you never know if you’re talking to a qualified person or a ten-year-oldwith nothing better to do at Weekend Daddy’s than sit at the computer and mess with people.