Concerned about a new symptom you’re having? Wondering what it could be? Rather than calling your physician, you might be tempted to pick up your tablet or laptop and start typing. Self-diagnosis has become more common in the age of the Internet and as the Web contains more and more information everyday. But trying to solve your health issues without seeing a physician is a potentially dangerous mistake.
- You may confuse one symptom with another. Even the most educated person, if not a physician, cannot correctly identify every possible symptom. For instance, you may read some articles and conclude that you’re experiencing heartburn, when it could be chest pain — a potentially serious problem.
- You could end up with unnecessary worry and anxiety over a symptom that isn’t serious. Imagine searching online for headaches, and finding that one possible reason could be cancer. In reality, this happens in only a small percentage of headache cases — so you should see your physician before you get overly concerned and stressed. You could have a sinus problem, eye strain, or a number of other causes that only a trained physician can identify.
- Your physician wants to keep track of all your symptoms — no matter how small they might seem. This helps your physician keep a complete health record for you and to identify the best possible treatments for any illnesses that may arise. If you don’t tell your physician about a symptom, even if it seems unimportant now, they won’t have a complete picture of how you’re doing. Plus, it could be a missing “piece to the puzzle” when your physician is working with you to identify and treat problems in the future.
- You should be seeing your physician anyway. You should be having your recommended wellness visits and screenings and keeping an ongoing relationship with your physician. This is the best way to catch problems early and to help you achieve the healthiest life.
- So, should you use the Internet to research health problems? Most physicians say yes, there is nothing wrong with doing this, as long as you use it as a tool, not a final destination. There are a number of websites available that offer information and even “symptom checkers” that can be helpful. These should be used as a starting point to talk with your doctor or identify a medical emergency, not as a substitute for medical advice.
The Internet is a great source if you’re looking to educate yourself on a condition you know you have, or ways to live healthier. Just make sure you’re using reputable sources, such as your local hospital or a nationally recognized health organization. Knowledge is power, but you need to keep your physician in the loop about your health and well-being.
CarePoint Health Primary Care
Your primary care physician can help you manage your healthcare, and answer any questions you have about your health. Your PCP will help you navigate your well visits and specialist care throughout your life, and will be your health care advocate. To find a skilled primary care physician at CarePoint Health, please contact us.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.