Dr. Google, Dr. Google you’re always around. When my family doctor’s office is closed, or when I don’t feel like making an appointment to see my family doctor, there you are. Right at my fingertips. But what good have you really done for me? Have you given me any kind of peace of mind or any tangible answers? No. Instead you spin me into this myriad web of unwarranted fear and bewilderment about my own health.
If you’ve found yourself to commonly seek Dr. Google’s advice for your health problems, you probably know that you’re doing a disservice to yourself. Yet, you still continue to do it. Because it’s so easy. But easy isn’t always right. If you need a reminder, then keep reading this article.
Unjustified arguments with doctors
You may not think you’re actually arguing with a doctor, but when you start statements with “but I read on Google,” you’re arguing with your doctor. To avoid this approach, consider re-framing your concerns. An example of this practice might involve asking your doctor “at what point should I start to worry if X is happening?” Either way, your doctor might think you’re a little paranoid but at least you can express your concerns in a more gentle tone.
You may have been able to find 10,359 results confirming that you have a certain ailment. This diagnosis from Dr.Google yields zero credibility. Consider the source of the information before you start believing what you read on screen. If you need some help, here are some tips on how to responsibly consume online content. Might I add that online forums are usually a big no no when it comes to self diagnosis. The people who participate in these forums only offer half of their story. You don’t know these people personally nor are you able to discern some form of truth from their responses.
Creates unneccesary fear
How many times have you looked up your symptoms and felt like you were going to die soon? If there are too many instances to count, then you’ve done yourself a disservice far too many times. Before you start writing your will and saying “goodbye” to your loved ones, ask yourself whether you’ve self diagnosed yourself first. Try to temper that fear as much as possible before you allow it to escalate out of control. You’re wasting your time and energy. An alternative to this behaviour is to call Telehealth, a toll free service that is available to Ontarians. This service is available 24 hours a day for anyone in Ontario who wishes to speak with a registered nurse about any symptoms or conditions. It can be handy on those days when you cannot make it to the doctor or clinic. However, it is in no way intended to replace a doctor’s advice. Although you won’t be able to receive a diagnosis, there is a certain degree of clarity that comes when a professional starts to ask you questions that you may not have considered.
Health information is full of contradictions
Last year when I attended a seminar hosted by Public Health Ontario , the speaker brought up this very idea of the contradictions embedded in health information. I’m sure you hear them all the time as well. One site will explain the benefits of honey, while another site will explain how harmful the pollens can be. But which one is true? That is just one example how overwhelming it can be to navigate the online world of health information. There are too many arguing points of view. Instead of putting the pressure on yourself to create your own plan for your health, it’s best to receive personalized advice on your health regimen from a health professional. Every body is unique and every body deserves a unique plan.
Before you decide to rely on unreliable Dr.Google, consider the greater harm you’re causing to your mental and physical well being. Consider how you’re spending your time. As someone who creates content and disseminates content, there is a responsibility upon myself to ensure that I am giving accurate information. A responsibility in which I am happy to have. It is also my responsibility to connect with my readers without causing harm. That being said, I will never tell you what you should do, especially in terms of health. Although I’ve conducted research within the realm of healthcare, I am humble enough to say that I am not in a position to give health advice. However, I am always on the search for solutions that work, solutions that don’t cause harm and are backed up by science. I have a passion for offering suggestions on what works for me but that’s all they are: suggestions based on opinions and experiences. Whatever health information I choose to dispense should be taken with a healthy grain of salt. Himalayan sea salt of course!
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