Is the rise of digital health tools such as mobile health, telehealth, and remote patient monitoring creating a new nation of cyberchondriacs?
According to the Pew Research Center, 59% of U.S. adults say they use the Internet to research and gather health information. Approximately 35% of those adults end up using the information they find to diagnose themselves. This new wave of so-called self-diagnosers has inspired a new phenomenon: cyberchondria, in which people have become obsessed and overwhelmingly concerned spending hours online, self diagnosing, and stressing out.
According to Dr. Chris Balgobin of Fairview Clinics, one of the hardest parts of his job is to convince people that they don’t have what they think.
“You need a healthcare professional to break it down for you — that’s what we are trained to do. Yes, there are delayed diagnoses. Finding that right provider that will listen to you and help engage you in an active discussion about your health. A physical exam is a huge part of this, too,” Balgobin said.
According to Dr. Balgobin, some people spend so much time reading about symptoms that they report having those symptoms when they don’t actually exist.
“Their mind is a powerful thing. It controls everything in the body: nervous system, mood, thyroid. When your mind is overly stressed about what you have, you start symptomizing where you create your symptoms. You start feeling this pain. ‘Wow, it’s tingly over here. I must have a stroke.’ And you go down this road of anxiety building,” Balgobin said.
Self diagnosers put themsleves in danger of overlooking serious illnesses, thinking there is more wrong with them than there really is the undermine the authority and roles of doctors, hospitals, and second opinions. Is the rise of digital health tools such as mobile health, telehealth, and remote patient monitoring creating a new nation of cyberchondriacs?
Learn more about the dangers of online self-diagnosis in the infographic visualization shown below created by Insurance Quotes.
Infographic credit: Insurance Quotes