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Cyberchondria 'could lead to worse medical conditions'

DUBAI, April 6, 2016

Canadian Specialist Hospitals (CSH), a leading private hospital in Dubai, has voiced its concern that consulting the web for medical answers over seeking a doctor’s professional opinion might worsen existing conditions and create unnecessary fear. 
 
Specialists from the hospital advised that symptoms should be communicated to the relevant doctor because self-diagnosis, or self-medication, might not be accurate, said a statement.
 
The excessive online investigation may lead to ‘cyberchondria’, an obsessive behaviour pattern characterised by browsing the web for illnesses one might have.
 
Several global studies have revealed that a significant percentage of Internet users searched for their symptoms on the web instead of consulting a professional doctor first.
 
Dr Yashar Ali, acting chief executive officer and chief medical officer, said: “Several users in the UAE also do consult the web for possible medications or diagnosis based on their symptoms. This is a potentially a harmful trend as results available on the web can cause anxiety. While there is nothing wrong with browsing the web for more information, proper diagnosis and corresponding medication must only be advised by specialists.
 
“Cyberchondria could also lead to hyperchondria, a chronic anxiety about one’s wellbeing.  It may become debilitating when one constantly lives with the fear that the actual or imagined illness is far worse than in reality. A simple symptom may be misconstrued as an indication of a major illness. Before taking any prescription drugs, it is advised to consult a medical specialist first as most of these drugs have side effects if taken incorrectly.”
 
“We’ve come across different patients who underwent self-medication or self-diagnosis, as a result of suggestions from various online sources. Patients must be educated on the dangers of placing their trust on a source that is not authenticated or accountable for their advice. One may get away with a minor problem like the flu, but self-diagnosis in the face of much more serious symptoms is dangerous," said Dr Ali.
 
"Moreover, it becomes more complicated if the patient is a child or the elderly. More often than not, simple illnesses searched on the Internet can lead to medical results that are worse than the actual conditions. You can educate yourself about different diseases on the web, but you still need to visit your doctor for medications, tests and accurate diagnosis,” he added.
 
There are several reasons why a person may prefer to turn to the web for answers: easy access, anxiety, discomfort or hesitation, or wanting to do some own research before the doctor’s appointment, the statement added. - TradeArabia News Service



Tags: Canadian | specialist |

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