I-Team: Self-Diagnosing Can Cause Cyberchondria

DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Have you ever felt something wasn’t right and gone online for a self-diagnosis?

Doctors warn this can not only be problematic but could lead to what some experts call cyberchondria – the condition of obsessing over medical information found online.

“It kind of freaked me out,” said Hannah Aldridge.

The folk singer said when she felt a pain in her chest she turned to the internet for answers, and the more she searched the more she worried.

Aldridge eventually learned she had a dislocated rib but that was not what she initially thought was the problem.

“I thought ‘I’m having a heart attack,’” said Aldridge. “It’s amazing what anxiety can do to a person and make you believe.”

This is what many doctors say is the downside of having so much medical information at your finger tips.

“Transparency of information is clearly going to be a double-edged sword,” said Dr. Cedric Spak, an infectious disease expert at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.

Dr. Spak said the internet can be helpful in educating patients, but it should not replace a doctor’s diagnoses.

“I think it is safe to say you can find anything on the internet,” said Dr. Spak. “We can all joke as internet users ‘it’s on the internet so it’s got to be true,’ and of course we all know that’s not the case.”

The Pew Research Center says nearly 60% of adults who use the internet have searched for health information and more than one in three say they’ve even tried using the internet to diagnose themselves.

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