Category: Spine Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: August 26, 2014
Finding the time to visit the doctor is difficult. Many people have to take time off of work, or re-arrange their work schedules to get to the clinic. As a result, many patients will postpone their appointments and just live with their pain. The internet offers many conveniences when it comes to diagnosing your health issues, but it can also be a detriment if used improperly. In this post, we will talk about the pros and cons of using the internet to diagnose yourself and the importance of face time with your doctor.
Online Symptom Checkers
There are a number of symptom checkers online (webmd and mayoclinic both have their own versions). These tools work by giving you a list of possible conditions you may have based on your particular symptoms. For example, if you mark your symptoms as: stuffy nose, sneezing, and congestion, the symptom checker may list: seasonal allergies, common cold, or sinus infection as possible conditions.
These symptom checkers are helpful for general patient education. A patient can narrow down their possible conditions, and learn about the causes, risks, and treatments for certain illnesses and conditions. However, these checkers are not doctors. They are controlled by algorithms; and as a result, they can give wild results that often cause patients a lot of undue anxiety. For example, a headache could return “brain tumor” as a result. While this could be the case, it is much more likely that a headache is the result of something much less sinister.
Importance of a Full Evaluation
Online diagnostic tools can be helpful at a very broad level, but diagnosis by an actual doctor should always be the next course of action. No matter what your malady, each patient’s situation is different and requires a unique approach to treatment. This takes a level of sophistication that a symptom checker simply does not have. So use online symptom checkers to get an idea of your possible conditions, and them make an appointment with a qualified physician who can more accurately figure out the cause of your pain, and treat you effectively.