I admit, I do a lot of self diagnosis via the Internet. I don't visit the doctor often, but when I do, I arrive armed with information. Researching allows me to explore and ask every question to my doctor, which makes me feel satisfied with the visit and subsequent diagnosis.
In the past, I had been spot on with the diagnosis, always just looking for confirmation from the Doctor. I'd walk away secretly gloating, knowing I should have been a Doctor but was too busy to take all the doctoring classes. Instead I've settled for diagnosing my family, friends and strangers at the grocery store. My only downfall is that I can't write prescriptions.
It was all good until recently, when I developed a symmetrical rash beginning around my ankles and progressing up my calves. Searching online I discovered it was Contact Dermatitis. When it didn't clear up after two weeks, I went back to the Internet and stayed there until I found out what I had. Yep, it was Vasculitis, with an underlying autoimmune disorder, thanks to my bout with Mononucleosis back in the 90's. My body was attacking itself and there was no way to stop it. I would live out the rest of my days with a terrible problem and no cure in sight. The blues set in.
Turns out I was a little off this time. I'm simply allergic to a new sunscreen that I was putting only on my feet, which caused. . . Contact Dermatitis. And my Doctor really wasn't too happy with my other suggestions gleaned from the Internet. I'm sure he felt disrespected when I came in my with ideas and prognosis.
Cyberchondria occurs when people have uncontrollable anxiety about their health and use the internet to diagnose themselves with a severe condition. Cyberchondria is a big problem that began back in 2000. Things like Gulf War Syndrome and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have been greatly perpetuated by people using the Internet to diagnose themselves.
This could get worse for Americans with the proposed direction our health care system could take. If people can't see their doctor in a timely manner, they will be forced to go to the Internet for self diagnosis, which often leads to misinformation, misdiagnosis and unneeded stress.
So use cyber-doctoring with caution. Gather information within reason, but trust the professionals for a true diagnosis.