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Should You Trust Dr. Google? Signs Point to No

Headache, dizziness, weird spot on your big toe? One quick internet search, and before you know it you there’s 10 different ailments that could explain your symptoms—and these days all the Q&A we need to “self-diagnose” appear in Google without even having to visit another website. Convenient, right? Not so fast.

National Public Radio (NPR) recently explored the risks of seeking medical diagnoses from the world wide web. And here’s why you shouldn’t Google medical advice (and it’s not just because it annoys your doctor).

Misinformation often worms its way into to search results

Try it for yourself. Search “is it safe to eat eggs while pregnant,” to follow the same example provided in the story. In an instant, the search engine will shoot back an answer in the form of a “Snippet,” plus a plethora of related Q&A you can dig into. The format lends an appearance of authority. However, a closer look (and more importantly, medical training) will reveal that some of the answers are half-true, some contradict each other, and some are outright false.

The fact is, Google has no clue as to which answers are medically correct and which ones are based on a blogger’s opinion. They are simply providing you with the most popular answers to the question you asked—without checking them against proven medical science. In addition to that, different people will get different answers depending on their location and other factors that influence the search results algorithm.

Why this is dangerous

People are more likely to click on whatever results come first, and Google typically provides the most popular or heavily visited pages in the top of the listings—which may or may not have the most accurate information. Thus, relying on a Google search for health information, rather than seeking the advice of a qualified medical professional, could potentially lead a person to do something that harms their health—like not going to the doctor because Google implied a condition you have wasn’t serious.

Seek guidance from professionals first

Most of us are guilty of visiting “Dr. Google” before seeking medical advice. While doing so can help us better understand some medical information, using the internet to try and diagnose our own symptoms is usually a bad idea.

It is crucial to seek medical advice from a licensed physician. No matter how sophisticated Google gets, a one-on-one, patient-doctor consultation is still the only way to receive an accurate diagnosis and safe, effective treatment recommendation for your health concerns.

This applies to cosmetic surgery and skin care too. If you have questions about a cosmetic procedure, or have issues following a procedure you’ve already had, we welcome you to contact us for a personal consultation with Dr. Haiavy, Dr. Tower, or Dr. Florin. Our Inland Empire cosmetic surgeons can separate fact from fiction and give you helpful guidance, thanks to their extensive experience and in-depth knowledge of medical facts.

Click here to read the full article, “Seeking Online Medical Advice? Google’s Top Results Aren’t Always On Target.”.

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