What do you do if you start feeling ill, or if you start having unusual symptoms? Do you search your symptoms online? Do you ask for opinions on social media? Technology makes it easy to find health information these days, but the information you can find online isn’t always reliable. Talk to your doctor when you have questions about your health.
80% of adults who use the internet in the U.S. search for health information online. This includes researching symptoms and learning about diseases and treatments, as well as general health advice and information.
It’s OK to look to the internet for health information. Learning more about an illness or disease can help you know what questions to ask your healthcare provider, and basic health information about healthy eating and exercise can help you make healthy life decisions. It’s important, however, not to fall victim to self diagnosis, that you learn to differentiate between credible and non-credible information, and that you realize online searches simply can’t replace the need for medical professionals.
You should still consult your primary care physician regardless of the quality of health information you find online.
It’s common for people to ask friends and family members for health advice. In the digital age, this often means taking to Facebook or similar social media platform. Social media allows us to reach large numbers of people in a short amount of time, but there’s no filter when it comes to the feedback that you receive.
In one survey, 90% of 18 to 24 year olds said they would trust medical information they saw in social media, but the health information shared on social media is not that reliable.
Like online searches, social media can be a good place to find general health information, but you shouldn’t look for a diagnosis of your symptoms.
Whether you have a simple question about healthy lifestyle choices, or you have symptoms that need a diagnosis, your primary care physician is the most reliable source for health information.
Medical doctors have years of education, training, and experience, and they dedicate their lives to exploring and understanding health. Your doctor can help you make sense of the health information you find online, and help you make the right decisions that will lead to the best possible health outcomes.