In this age of the internet, "cyberchondria" has become a real thing. You feel sick, you plug your symptoms into a Google search, and suddenly you're flipping out because you think you have some rare, hard-to-pronounce disease. On the flip side, you put yourself at risk for letting the web tell you that your symptoms are "no big deal," when they're actually something you need to get checked out immediately.
Yes, we know it's faster to turn to the internet than book an appointment with your doctor. But it's going to save you a lot of grief if you at least stay away from "Dr. Google" if you ever experience the following symptoms. Find out why and then don't miss our report on 17 Immunity Boosters Better than Emergen-C!
Chest Pain or Heart Palpitations
If you are feeling a tightness in your chest and decide to ask the internet what that could mean, chances are the search results are going to point to heart attacks or serious underlying heart conditions. "In reality, these are fairly normal experiences in everyday life, or they can also be a harmless symptom of stress or anxiety," explains Dr. Samuel Malloy of drfelix.co.uk. "If the chest pain or palpitations are caused by anxiety, believing it could be a heart attack can often be enough to actually cause a panic attack." Rest assured, unless you're in a high-risk group for heart attacks, your occasional palpitations or chest pain are probably nothing alarming. But if you're still worried, you should seek proper medical advice from your doctor. And while you're thinking about your ticker's health, avoid these 30 Worst Foods For Your Heart!
Diseases in the News
Be prudent about Googling any potentially fast-moving disease with dire consequences, like Zika or flesh-eating bacteria. If you're genuinely worried that you have symptoms of a hot topic health issue of the moment, then what you should be doing is calling your doctor before you read up on stories of exaggerated cases and start thinking of worst case scenarios.
"Unless you have a deep fascination and tolerance for the grotesque, I'd recommend bypassing the Google images of a number of dermatological disorders," recommends Dr. Gretchen Kubacky, Psy.D. The images of broken flesh, oversized boils and growths, puss-filled zits, and more is not something you can unsee—and not something you want to imagine growing out of a minor skin irritation you may be facing, like a little skin tag! Step away from the image search and stock up on these 25 Healthy Foods That Give You Glowing Skin instead.
"Never turn to Google to find an explanation of any excruciating abdominal pain," says Dr. Dion Metzger. "Extreme, severe pain in your abdomen is an emergency until proven otherwise. Get off the Internet and into your fastest transportation to the ER."
Quick Weight Loss
No matter how bloated you may be feeling—especially after the holiday season—don't Google these three little words: "quick weight loss." "If it's quick, it's probably not that sustainable—and can even be harmful if pills are involved," says Dr. Metzger. If a puffy tummy is your issue, eat more of these 42 Foods to Deflate Your Belly Bloat.
No one wants to ask their friends about anal pain, which unfortunately leads many to run to "Dr. Google" to get a diagnosis. "Big mistake," explains Cedrek McFadden, MD. "There are several conditions that can lead to and cause anal pain, including rectal or anal cancer. So, by erroneously treating 'hemorrhoids' with over-the-counter creams—when they actually have a fissure, abscess, or even worse cancer—the patient may be delaying much needed medical attention." You can also unknowingly create a situation where a potentially curable and treatable condition becomes one that's gotten much worse and even incurable.
Medication When You're Pregnant
Googling the risks of taking various medications during pregnancy is a slippery slope because the top search results provided via Google's sponsored listings are biased, unsubstantiated, inaccurate or anecdotal. Also, if a woman is concerned about her health during or after pregnancy, "She is best served by speaking face-to-face with a reproductive psychiatrist who knows how to accurately diagnose and treat various perinatal mental health issues," explains Dr. Carly Snyder.
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If you assume you have depression and treat it with an over-the-counter suggestion, you may miss a bigger and more serious (albeit rare) problem: Some brain tumors are identified from changes in personality or depression. Go see a doctor if you're "off day" is more like an "off month" for no clear reason.
Many first-time parents freak out when their babies get their first diaper rash—but Googling remedies is a major no-no. Some rashes actually breed yeast infections (especially in girls) and adult creams such as Monistat are part of the recommended treatment. But coming across that in a Google search rather than from a doctor is asking for a panic attack that no new parent needs to experience!
The problem with Googling something as common and simple as nausea is that it's going to appear in a wide range of diagnoses—everything from pregnancy to hyperthyroidism. And when a symptom is not exclusive to one disease, you're asking for a lot of grief, worry, and "What if…?" scenarios for something you likely do not have and do not need to be treated for. P.S. – We know motion sickness isn't always the same thing as nausea, but check out these Best & Worst Motion Sickness Foods that may help your situation.