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The hazards of Googling your symptoms

December 20, 2019

Mark L. Friedman, MD, FACEP, FACP

If you’re like one in three Americans, you've turned to Dr. Google to self-diagnose. What is that lingering pain in my leg? Should I see a doctor about this weird patch of dry skin?

Dr. Google is always in. Always there to take in your symptoms and spit out a meaningful, medically-accurate diagnosis within seconds, right?


According to a study from Harvard Medical School, those free online medical symptom checkers:

  • Are usually wrong. The correct diagnosis only came up first 34% of the time.
  • Cause unnecessary doctor visits, wasting time and money. In two-thirds of cases where medical attention was not necessary, symptom checkers encouraged in-person care. 
  • Can be bad for your health. Researchers say that turning to the internet for diagnostic information can lead to “hypochondriasis” and “cyberchondria.” That’s a fancy way of saying, “Googling your symptoms will make you more anxious.”


So, what should you do? Ask a real doctor!

Your health is unique to you, and your experience should be personal. A First Stop Health doctor will know the right questions to ask about your symptoms, and how what you’re feeling might be impacted by your medical history. They’ll be able to guide you to the best decision for you, whether that’s a prescription, advice to seek in-person care, or just old-fashioned rest and chicken soup.

First Stop Health doctors have heard it all, and can answer questions like:

  • “Can I use Pepto-Bismol if I’m pregnant?”
  • “Is this what heartburn feels like?”
  • “Should I go to the ER for an x-ray?”
  • “Should I be worried about this lump?”

You can get an answer from a real doctor within MINUTES, so why stress over scary and confusing search results?

It’s time to retire Dr. Google. Call First Stop Health.

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Call 888-691-7867 or use the app to request a visit.

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Originally published Dec 20, 2019 6:33:40 PM.