DR GOOGLE

DIY health on the rise.

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

COM­PUT­ERS and smart­phones are chang­ing the way we live.

With some of the health and fit­ness apps and blogs eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble, that change may be for the bet­ter.

Young adults are much more likely than older peo­ple to have a smart­phone and use it to look for health in­for­ma­tion and ad­vice, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent sur­vey by the Pew In­ter­net and Amer­i­can Life Project.

You can tell the ages of com­puter users by which plat­form they use, it seems. Ac­cord­ing to Pew, three of the top five symp­toms searched for on Ya­hoo Mo­bile in Jan­uary were preg­nancy, her­pes and HIV.

But none of these showed up among the top searches on desk­top com­put­ers, which are more likely to be used by older peo­ple.

The most pop­u­lar searches on PCS in­cluded gas­troen­teri­tis, heart at­tacks, gout and shin­gles.

Younger, mo­bile- de­vice users fre­quently down­loaded apps to man­age their diet, drink­ing and ex­er­cise and that’s on the rise – the num­ber has in­creased five­fold in the past two years, ac­cord­ing to Ev­ery­day Health sta­tis­tics.

We have long been warned not to trust ‘‘ Doc­tor Google’’, with re­ports that four in five Aus­tralians turn to the web for health in­for­ma­tion, and nearly half of those are us­ing the net for self- di­ag­no­sis.

Treat­ing mi­nor health is­sues is less se­ri­ous, but putting off see­ing a doc­tor due to on­line re­search can be dan­ger­ous, the Aus­tralian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion warns. It’s not just pa­tients, how­ever. A sur­vey last year by Wolters Kluwer Health showed that 46 per cent of Amer­i­can doc­tors fre­quently use search en­gines like Google and Ya­hoo for treat­ing, di­ag­nos­ing or caring for their pa­tients, and 42 per cent fre­quently source their in­for­ma­tion from on­line health sites like the Mayo Clinic and WEBMD. For ail­ing web searchers at home, ‘‘ Cy­ber­chon­dria’’ can be a ter­ri­fy­ing

sit­u­a­tion that may in­deed make one feel off- colour.

Seek­ing pre­ven­ta­tive health ad­vice on­line is a safer op­tion. With the growth of health, fit­ness and diet apps and blogs on­line, it is eas­ier than ever to im­prove your life­style from the com­fort of the couch.

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