Ever had a particularly bad headache and wondered what was causing it? Perhaps you’ve clutched your stomach in pain, hopped on Google and diagnosed yourself with appendicitis? Whatever the issue, many people turn to ‘Dr Google’ to diagnose and treat what ails them. But doing so can be bad for your health.


One issue is you can’t necessarily trust that what you’re reading is accurate. After all, there are many dodgy websites out there and taking advice from strangers can be harmful. What worked for one person may not work for you, for example, and taking medication without proper advice can be downright dangerous.

Dr McCoy explains: “You wouldn’t necessarily believe outrageous claims if they were in a newspaper ad. But people see it on a screen and all of a sudden they believe it.”

Another issue – nicknamed ‘Cyberchondria’ (as it’s similar to the ‘real-life’ condition, hypochondria) – relates to people who read about health symptoms and then worry they may have each condition. This then causes undue anxiety.

But ‘Dr Google’ can be helpful. “There’s no doubt there’s some fantastic websites that provide a lot of information,” says Dr McCoy. “And in general the more people know about their health, the more likely they’ll be able to do something good about it.”
The answer’s simple: If you’re concerned about your health, see your GP. Dr McCoy adds: “It’s really important for people to…learn which sites are reliable. If you’re not sure whether or not it’s a good site, talk about it with your doctor.”

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