Symptom-checker websites and apps are becoming increasingly popular, but a recent study from Harvard Medical School proved that real doctors diagnose correctly more than twice as often as apps. Misdiagnosing yourself online can cause unnecessary worry and anxiety, so you need to be wary. Here’s how to use Doctor Google wisely:
◆ A digital diagnosis is likely to offer a range of options, from dehydration up to a brain tumour, so try not to fret about the most extreme possibility. Put your worries aside until you’ve seen your GP.
◆ Symptom-checkers can be helpful, and you can share the information with your GP, but remember that the subtleties a doctor detects about your condition can lead to an entirely different diagnosis than you expect, so be open to what they have to say.
◆ Don’t be tempted to click on links making dramatic claims or promoting products, and don’t assume that just because a website comes up first, it’s the best.
◆ Save yourself a phone call or visit to your GP – the internet can be handy for some medical situations, such as telling you the standard dose of a painkiller or how to treat verrucas.
◆ Stick to reputable websites that are fact checked, such as nhs.uk or patient.info.
Online diagnosis is no match for expert advice