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Asking Dr. Google

I wanted to experiment with a new homemade toothpaste recipe I found online. But I wanted to make sure the abrasive baking soda in the recipe wasn’t doing permanent damage to my teeth.

So where did I turn for advice? Dr. Google, of course.

The folks at the Pew Internet and American Life project say that more than 72% of us turn to the internet first for health diagnoses. You can read the study here. Now to be fair, many of those people use the information found online to have a more informed conversation with their doctor. But Pew found that 32% of us still skip the doctor altogether and get our purely diagnosis online.

And, by golly, it makes sense. When the choice comes between waiting endlessly for a appointment or self-solving our problem in minutes on our own schedule (without having to leave work, might I add), we generally choose the later.

It’s undeniable that we live in an age of rapid evolution for health care. A physician’s body of knowledge is scattered in bits and pieces across thousands of webpages, easily accessible without a co-pay. New regulations are changing the way we pay for and, in some cases, the way we think about our health.

The evolution raises some crucial questions, though. How do we know that our diagnosis is correct? How do we sift the internet rumor from the scientific fact? And, most importantly, how do we know that we aren’t harming our bodies?

As a personal trainer and health enthusiast, I will watch people at the gym do things incorrectly all the time. Having watched the same how-to video floating around on social media, I can take a pretty good guess at where they got their information from. Sometimes the things we try are harmless, other times they can cause serious consequences. The ailment that is possibly contracted by too much Googling is called Cyberchondria. Look it up, it’s a real disease.

While I take a moment to call my dentist for a little advice, you should take a moment and comment below. Where do you draw the line when it comes to internet diagnosis?

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