Having the world’s answers at our fingertips can be a blessing and curse. Want to know the capital of Azerbaijan? The location of your closest burger joint? Or how much flights to Hawaii are? Google is your best friend.
But want to know why you’re coughing and have a headache? Welcome to the anxiety-ridden world that is Googling medical advice…
New research out this month shows more than 50% of Aussies are using the search engine at least weekly to look up medical questions and symptoms. And while this number may not shock you, the survey also found that 60% of respondents were convinced they had a certain illness after Googling symptoms but then found out it was something else entirely when visiting their doctor!
In fact, 20% of Aussies felt more anxious after Googling their symptoms, rather than relieved.
Dr Charlotte Middleton, GP and Chief Clinical Advisor at MedicalDirector, believes there are more serious implications as well for regular Googlers.
“The convenience of looking up health information on Google can easily turn from a habit to a full-blown addiction” she warns. “I’ve seen patients who just can’t seem to stop Googling their symptoms, to the point where they need an actual intervention from family and friends to stop them doing it!’”
And when you consider that almost three quarters of Aussies say they have used Google to address their health needs instead of visiting a doctor… we could be ignoring ailments that could be treated pretty damn easily.
So the next time you Google ‘headache’ and come up with the Google answer of ‘brain tumour’, perhaps a trip to your bulk-billed doctor might be a better solution.