Thanks to the internet, everyday people now have access to a limitless number of educational resources. The amount of free, quality information available online is nothing short of staggering. This is obviously a very beneficial thing. Just by jumping online you can learn valuable skills like how to change a tire or apply a tourniquet. Yet, the reality is you can’t learn everything on the internet –– even if it might seem like you can sometimes. This is particularly pertinent in regard to medical conditions. Sites like WebMD offer detailed information about many common conditions and diseases, but you should always resist the temptation to self-diagnose. Why? Check out our top three reasons to find out:
#1 You Could be wrong
Obviously, most people are not medically trained professionals. As such, just because you seemingly exhibit symptoms of a given disease, it’s dangerous to assume that you have that condition. Indeed, taking medication for a disease you don’t have is very risky and can have serious negative consequences. Furthermore, you may end up making unnecessary changes to your diet or exercise routine because you think you have a medical problem. Scariest of all, you may think you have a minor condition –– like a muscle tear or a back spasm –– yet, you could actually have something much more serious that simply “feels” like a minor issue, but which could prove fatal under the worst circumstances.
#2 You Could be Right
Fantastic, you’ve successfully self-diagnosed a medical condition. As unlikely as this is, it’s still potentially harmful to try and treat that issue yourself. Home remedies and over-the-counter treatments often fail to adequately cure or address many medical conditions. What’s more, abatement of symptoms does not always mean that a disease has been cured. Also, though you may successfully self-diagnose one issue, you may have an entirely separate medical condition that you’ve missed. Diseases aren’t mutually exclusive.
#3 It Can Cause Further Issues
Say you self-diagnose a skin condition. Whether you’re right or wrong, the diagnosis itself could cause you to make decisions that affect your health in a negative way. If, for instance, you already assume that you’re unwell somehow, you may stop taking precautions to protect yourself. Or, a perceived condition can affect your medical state and cause you to feel anxious or depressed on a regular basis.
The Bottom Line
No matter how certain you are that you have a medical issue, always check with a medical professional to make sure. At the end of the day, doctors and nurses have extensive knowledge about diagnostic methods; you don’t. They have access to sophisticated lab equipment like an Elisa 96 well plate and heparin tubes; and, again, you don’t. If you’re concerned about your well-being, close the computer and go see your doctor. Trust us; you’ll be glad you did!