Why I Don’t WebMD

The vast majority of people with an internet connection are familiar with WebMD.com; a health website that covers a variety of health related issues. It also has a nifty “Symptom Checker” that you can use to self diagnose yourself with all kinds of fun diseases.

I used to be obsessed with this website. At times when I’ve done “research” on health related topics, I’m often brought back to this website. When I find articles on WebMD, my first thought is,

“Oh! It’s on WebMD! It must be legitimate.”

Not always the case. Plenty of studies that I’ve found on WebMD are just one time studies done without any other kind of follow up study to prove the results.

Here’s why I don’t WebMD for my health anymore.

 

It makes me crazy.

 

End of story. It literally turns me into a hypochondriac lunatic who apparently has cancer no matter what is going on with me.

This brings me to the subject of a new illness that I call “Information Induced Hypochondria”. Lots of people suffer from this problem, and I guess it’s not technically anyone’s fault.

We have this ability to Google to our hearts content about literally everything. Want to know how far it is to the moon?   How many weeks in a trimester? Why my poop is green? Is there really such a thing as German Dungeon Porn? (Cards Against Humanity certainly thinks so.)

We have flown headlong into an illness that most don’t even realize we’ve developed with our ability to instantly self gratify at the click of a button.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to the internet with my medical troubles. All varying reasons. Potential pregnancy symptoms, medication combinations and whether they were safe, side effects of medications, etc…

And don’t get me started on WebMD. One time I had terrible gas for days. I mean like…rank. Frequent. Clear the room bad. (Everybody farts.  Everybody also poops if you’re in denial ladies.) But needless to say I was just a wee bit concerned that I had some terrible parasite or intestinal bug thing. So I went to WebMD. It didn’t ask me things like “What have you eaten lately?” Or “When was the last time you pooped?” Or “How much fiber have you been consuming?”

No it went straight to CANCER. I had colon cancer. Somehow at the ripe old age of 26 I’d developed a serious case of colon cancer, and I knew then that I was going to die of an ass related disease. (Not making light of colon cancer) but I most certainly did not have it.

Several people I know have used the symptom checker to try and self diagnose a problem, only to find out that they too have cancer.

Have hot flashes? Ovarian cancer. Diarrhea? Colon Cancer. Joint pain? Bone cancer. Persistent cough? Lung cancer. Just to name a few.

And sometimes it mixes it up. The symptom checker will give you a variety of things that could possibly be wrong with you, varying from normal issues to serious ones that frighten the crap out of you. Here, let’s test it.

I’ve been trying to go up 22 floors of stairs (technically 44 flights) a least twice a week starting last week for the first time. Also, my right ankle is still kind of sore from tearing a ligament in January so I’ve been putting some weight on my left foot without realizing it. This morning I woke up with a wicked cramp in my left foot, right in the arch. Hurts like hell!

Now, you know and I know that it’s from climbing stairs (and probably not wearing the correct shoes while doing so) but let’s just assume that I’m stupid and have no clue that I should make the connection. Instead of thinking back to what it could be related to, I’ll go ahead and see what the Symptom Checker on WebMD thinks it is.

 

Okay so I’ll start off with putting in my basic information. I censored it for you people at work. 😉 Scandalous!

webmd1

So now it’s going to take me to the next step where I’ll tell them what part exactly is bothering me. Easy enough. My foot!

webmd2

 

After that I’m going to tell them what is wrong with my foot. Pain obviously.

webmd3

Damn, this must be super legit! They’re getting really detailed about this foot pain I’m having.

webmd4

And the verdict? What do I have Dr. Internet?

webmd5

 

webmd6

What?! What the hell is Sciatica? Peripheral Neuropathy? I’m not even diabetic! How did this happen? My foot might be broken?! I had no idea that I could have broken my foot and not known it! Metatarsablahblah-wha?! WHAT? Holy crap, I’m dying of FOOT. Why did no one tell me I could have such terrible things happen to my feet for not reason at all? What is this world coming to?!!!  Even Multiple Sclerosis is on this list!

Well, maybe it’s not that bad. Let’s see what some of those things are.

webmd7

Okay, not too bad. Except that it now thinks that I have some other spine related problem if I have this…

webmd8

Nerve problems because of the wrong shoes? That could be it. You know, my husband tells me all the time that my pinky toe looks a little weird because my shoes are pretty tight. That’s probably what it is.  Wait.  Surgery? I might need surgery?

webmd9

WHAAAAAAT?! I’ve developed MS?! I’ve watched House, and it never ends well when it’s MS.  Holy crap, this awful disease is going to start in my foot, but eventually I’m going to be all kinds of messed up? I won’t be able to balance or talk right?

I’m doomed. I’m literally doomed.

I might as well not even go see a doctor because, well…I’m doomed.

🙂  We all know I don’t have any of those problems.  The truth is, I have a cramp in my foot.  Just a cramp.  It will be gone in a few days, and maybe even less if I get the hubby to rub my feet.  But if I didn’t know any better?  I might just be freaking the hell out.  And with freaking out comes more Googling to try and self medicate without the aid of a physician.  Just as dangerous.

SERIOUSLY FOLKS. Stop using internet self diagnosing tools. Moral of the story. If you’re not feeling well, and it’s persistent, go to the freaking doctor!

Stop Googling, hoping that someone on Yahoo Answers will tell you what’s wrong with you, or that WebMD will know. The internet is NO substitution for a doctor. And if you don’t have insurance? Walgreens Take Care Clinics are $75 with no insurance. And I’m sure there are other clinics that are free. What are they called?   Oh yeah, Free Clinics.

The body is a mystery. Which is why thousands of medical professionals study the body in order to tell you how it works. They are called physicians.

Physicians

I will quote my Gynecologist who called me out on it long ago when I Googled an Endometriosis related issue instead of just asking her.

“Go ahead and confess Katie. You’ll feel better. You weren’t “researching”, you were Googling. Tell me, what medical school did Google go to?”

I know, I know. It’s really hard when you’re feeling like crap and you have to wait until the appointment to find out what the hell is wrong with you.  It’s even worse if you have to wait on test results, but Googling, or self diagnosing via the internet will not make that problem go away any faster. 9 times out of 10 you’re going to need some kind of a prescription anyway that you can’t get from the internet. (Well you could, but probably not legally)

If you think you’re pregnant, you’re not going to be any more or less pregnant if you have to wait a few days to pee in a cup at the doctor’s office. (Or on a stick at home) If you think you broke your foot? You should probably already be IN the doctor’s office getting an x-ray instead of icing your foot at your home computer.

Have I made my point? I think I’ll be staying off of medical websites from now on, or any other self diagnosing websites.

Feel free to continue “researching” via the internet if you want. But I’m probably going to assume that you’re a hypochondriac when you choose a website over a physician.  Or I’ll give you my sympathies on your diagnosis of internet cancer.

 

End rant.  😉

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