Confessions Of A Cyberchondriac – Internet Making People Think They're Sick

from the people-getting-sick dept

I’ve heard stories of people in medical school who, as they study each new disease, suddenly notice that they have the symptoms particular to that disease. Now that we have the internet, and anyone can study up on any disease in the comfort of their own home, it seems this phenomenon is no longer limited to medical students. aNonMooseCowherd writes in with a link to a story about the rise of cyberchondriacs – people who are spending all their time researching diseases they believe they have. They go to their doctors armed with information – and are told they’re perfectly healthy. Then, they get back online and go doctor shopping for another doctor, since they believe the original one must be wrong. In the end, about the only disease these people tend to have is “health anxiety” (apparently the modern name for hypochondria) with a high tech twist.

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Comments on “Confessions Of A Cyberchondriac – Internet Making People Think They're Sick”

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Bryan Price says:

I just went through this

My wife thought she was having a heart attack back in the beginning of September, ’03. After going through her stem to stern, they determined that it was a skeleto-muscular inflamtion in her sternum. But they managed to catch in one of the CT scans, a spot on her liver. Last week it was an MRI, and yesterday it was a colonoscopy, just in case it was a secondary cancer (which meant that the primary cancer was colon). She had to look things up on the internet, and found out that cancer in the liver is a sign of fourth stage colon cancer, and that means only a 5% survival rate (length of survival probably being two years, so I have to wonder about “survival”), and basically frightened herself silly. Luckily, before she went under for the colonoscopy, the doctor was able to look at the results of the MRI and find out that she had a hepatic adenoma. Something rare, but something they were able to find out with the MRI. She started to calm down, and of course her colonoscopy showed everything just fine.

This was certainly an issue where too much information was available, and she kept picking the worse consequences for what was going on.

On a long enough time line, survivability reaches 0%

Fight Club, I believe.

bbay says:

No Subject Given

Oh yeah, I’ve had my own experience with the ‘google diagnosis’, very untrustworthy.

I thought I had strep throat, so I look up info on the web. By the time I was done I was convinced that I had rheumatic fever. Are those red spots on my chest? My fingers are kind of stiff. Ow, my heart!

It was just a sinus infection.

Then I looked up the side effects of my antibiotics. Whoo boy, that’ll keep you up at night.

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