The Dangers of Dr. Google

You spot a small rash on your arm, feel a tickle in the back of your throat or notice strange stomach pains. Who do you turn to first for answers? That’s right—Google. Suddenly, you’re flooded with information from everywhere. How can you know what’s reliable and relevant, and what isn’t?

Often, looking up a symptom online can be handy and helpful. But it can also be confusing and scary. For some people, this may lead to excessive worrying about their health.

If online searches are causing anxiety, take a break from the internet. Discuss your health concerns with your doctor.

Some online health resources are trustworthy. But others make false or misleading claims. These tips can help you tell the credible resources from the cyberquacks:

Start with your go-to sites. High-quality websites on a wide range of health topics include:

medlineplus.gov MedlinePlus (National Library of Medicine)

cdc.gov Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

familydoctor.org American Academy of Family Physicians

healthfinder.gov U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

nih.gov National Institutes of Health


Consider the source. For other websites, ask yourself: Is the source a reputable, well-known organization? Has the information been reviewed by health experts?

Evaluate the evidence. Is the information based on scientific research? Is it unbiased (not slanted to sell you something)?

Be aware that even the best online information may not apply to your situation. Dr. Google is no substitute for getting personalized advice from your real-world healthcare provider.

 

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