The world of internet has given rise to the trend of ‘self-diagnosis’. Whenever we fall sick or feel any uneasiness in our body, the first thing we tend to do is Google our symptoms. We search for possible ailments for our symptoms and also its treatments. In fact, according to a research, eight out of ten Internet users look online for health information. In some cases, doing so becomes an addiction, also known as Cyberchondria – the tendency to self-diagnose health problems online to anxiety-producing results.
The internet searches only sometimes help us find the problem which could lead to the right solutions. However, most of the times it can lead to a great anxiety and unsubstantiated concern over common symptoms based on online literature and research. From the time someone begins the process of self-diagnosing and agonizing over an unproven health problem, it becomes an issue.
In the current times of the COVID 19 pandemic, fear and anxiety has caused an increase in online self-diagnosis and medications. Denial to accept the diagnosis, treating symptoms partially can mask this condition for some time and hence by the time the actual consultation happens, the diseases could be in a severe or advanced stage. This may cause the disease to spread in the community as well, as proper precautions are not taken from an early stage. The symptoms overlap with many conditions and hence online or self-diagnosis can cause a false sense of relief. The signs which can be assessed by a qualified medical professional can totally be missed out. As responsible citizens, we should use online guidance to be aware and not treat ourselves.
Ms Kanchan Naikawadi, Preventive Healthcare Specialist, Indus Health Plus says, “Self-medication has become very common and there are various reasons for it. Lack of time, scarcity of health services, financial constraint, lack of awareness, appealing advertisements and easy availability of drugs are responsible for the increasing trend of self-medication. People should consult a doctor before taking any medication as it may cause a serious damage to the body. Checking for symptoms online is okay but it should always be followed up with proper health checkup and expert advice.”
Here are some potential risks associated with self-medication to keep in mind:
- Incorrect diagnosis of the illness and incorrect process of therapy
- Failure to recognize pharmacological risks resulting in severe adverse reactions
- Failure to seek proper and prompt medical advice
- No knowledge of contraindications, interactions, warnings and precautions
- Duplicate medication which may lead to harmful drug interaction
- Inadequate or excessive dosage
- Excessively prolonged use
- Risk of dependence and abuse
- Food and drug interaction
- Psychological effects due to incorrect diagnosis
- Inaccuracy of online symptom checkers
- The article has been contributed by Ms Kanchan Naikawadi, Preventive Healthcare Specialist, Indus Health Plus.