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People Use the Internet to Check Symptoms, Making Doctors Mad

mad doctorToday in Things You Didn't Already Know: turns out, you cannot actually treat disease with the Internet! Not even large doses of it!

Despite that fact that almost everyone consumes massives quantities of Internet on a daily basis, it is not necessarily good for your health. Fox News even talked to some upside-down doctors in Australia, and they confirmed that the World Wide Web is no substitute for an actual hospital. "You can't make a diagnosis using the Internet," the Australian Medical Association's vice-president Steve Hambleton said.

Some doctors fear the all of this Internet is turning us into "cyberchondriacs." According to Fox, "Over the past 12 months most health-related Google searches in Australia were for information related to 'symptoms,' 'blood' and 'cancer.'" (The most "health-related" searches include health-related terms like "symptoms"? Wow.) Apparently a handful of people are coming into doctors' offices and complaining of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease when they really just have a hangnail. Blame the trend piece Internet.

Not everyone's a cyberchondriac, though. Researchers at Pew recently found that women are the most frequent searchers for health information, especially if they care for children or the elderly, so they probably have a good reason to check. The people least likely to search were people with disabilities, people without a college degree, African Americans and Latinos.

Of course, the likelihood that someone is searching for health information may also have something to do with their quality of health care coverage. The 28-percent of 18- to 29-year-olds who use their cell phones to use an online symptom checker are probably less likely to have insurance than the baby boomers who were also less likely to use their phones to search for health info. Good thing we just struck down that health care bill so that Google and Verizon can be our doctors, instead.

Tags: doctors, medicine, obvious, pew, top, web

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