Are You A Cyberchondriac?

Tuesday, July 2nd 2013, 9:30 pm
By: News 9

A headache, a sore throat, maybe even a fever are pretty common. Before calling the doctor many of us turn to the internet for our own symptom shopping, trying to figure out what's wrong.

That's sometimes the case for mom of three, DeShannon Haynes.

"At least once a month somebody has a sniffle or a fever or something," Haynes said, "My first stop is to check it out on the internet."

Haynes is not alone. The Pew Research Center says 59 percent adults who use the internet have searched for health information online in the past year. More than one-third say they've actually tried to figure out what medical condition they or someone else is having.

Doctor Doug Riddle encourages his patients to use the internet to get informed. The problem arises when self-diagnosing stresses us out, the sure sign of a cyberchondriac.

"When it becomes a distress to your daily life, when it starts affecting how you're managing relationships or your own health, then it's probably bad" said Dr. Riddle.

Haynes said, "I have a tendency to not ignore symptoms, but at least check on them and then see if we need to take it a step further."

Dr. Riddle says that's the best remedy.

"My recommendation is to get online, be educated about what symptoms you're having, be educated on the diagnosis, research the medications you're taking,"

Then if that triggers any questions, talk to your doctor.

And Doctor Riddle adds don't get carried away looking at blogs. He said patient testimonials tend to be worst case scenarios. Also, don't trust every medical website. Know who is managing them. And steer clear of any site that asks for personal information or money.

Signs of a Cyberchondriac:

* Focus on worst case scenarios

* Surf for vague symptoms like fatigue, muscle aches, headache.

* Our "favorites" in our computer are filled with medical websites.

* We feel worse after we get off the computer.

* We are never convinced with the self diagnosis.

* Regularly turning to friends on social media for medical advice

* Bringing your own medical research to your doctor

* Pulse skyrockets when symptom surfing

* It takes over your life

Reliable medical websites:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention


Mayo Clinic