WebMD: A Hypochondriac’s Best Frenemy

Before I go any further, let me preface this by saying that although I am a mild hypochondriac, I can be somewhat rational…after my initial panic attack wears off. Anyway, today I noticed some tingling in my ring and pinky finger on my right hand. Like any dutiful hypo (Urban Dictionary slang), I immediately Googled my symptoms. (Medical diagnosis what?!) Thanks to terrific search engine placement, WebMD was the first to pop up. I went through the usual questions. “Have you been bitten by an animal?” “Could you have eaten bad fish?” and found myself with this disturbing conclusion. Oh, wait. “Possible Condition”.

I realize this is probably a completely rash diagnosis generated by what I believe to be a group of terrifying men, dressed in dark cloaks, meant to terrify a person into seeking medical attention, but COME ON. Tingling? Eh, must be MS. Sure, I made the choice to seek out the opinion of the WebMD staffers, but this, out of all the diagnosises I’ve received, has to be the most ridiculous.

So when is the right time to use WebMD? Well, use WebMD for general symptoms, such as a stuffy nose or use it to get to the next step — visiting a doctor. Some people like to have as much information about their symptoms as possible before talking to a doctor, so WebMD would be a perfect resource for this. When you shouldn’t use the site is if you have serious symptoms. According to an article on IND.com:

“If you use WebMD as your only source, and you don’t have a reliable physician that you can talk to and address your concerns, I think that’s where the problem is,” Dr. Indira Gautam, a family medicine specialist at Regional Medical Center of AcadianaGautam says. “That’s where we build a lot of anxiety for no reason.” Other doctor-recommended websites include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and sites ending with .gov and .edu. But be aware that some sites might not be legitimate.

“I think dot-gov sites are pretty good and valid sites, as well as .edu sites, because they are usually university-associated,” Gautam reports. “But anybody can post anything they want on the Internet, and that’s what’s scary.”

For more information about WebMD, visit the about section of their site.

For more information on how I ended up a neurotic hypo, please contact my mother.

My Healthy Tip of the Day: If you do decide to use WebMD to help better determine what might be causing your symptoms, remember not to panic if you see some pretty serious diseases come up on your Possible Conditions list.

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