×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Cyberchondria

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the dr.-koop-to-the-rescue dept.

The Internet 294

Makarand writes "According to this article in the San Francisco Chronicle the ever-expanding wealth of health information online is keeping hypochondriacs constantly worried. With websites devoted to every major and esoteric illness and search engines coming up with many disease possibilities when you type in a symptom, it is becoming very easy for the health-anxious to believe that they have a disease. Many continue poring through the easily available medical information even after their doctors have given them a clean bill of health."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

294 comments

Need advice! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8289137)

I came home sick from school today and caught my mom masturbating with a carrot. What should I do?

Re:Need advice! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8289156)

Help 'er out!

See a doctor (5, Insightful)

agm (467017) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289145)

If you are concerned about something health related the best advice I can give is DON'T LOOK ON THE INTERNET and see a doctor. Doctors vists are a great way to get piece of mind, which IMO is well worth the cost/hassle.

Re:See a doctor (5, Funny)

CracktownHts (655507) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289179)

Doctors vists are a great way to get piece of mind

...but so are NYC taxi rides. The idea behind paying a doctor is that they're supposed to give you a piece of their trained mind.

Re:See a doctor (5, Informative)

DebianRcksLindowsLie (752247) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289311)

Actually wouldn't you rather have peace of mind?

Speaking of peace of mind...set your mind at ease. The rumors are true. Click on the link in my sig.

I call bullshit. (-1, Insightful)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289186)

Many times doctors are giving you advice that will help them write you a prescription to line their pockets. One's first resource should be the internet so that he may be prepared to understand what the doctor is relaying and question it with knowledge instead of obeying it blindly. Those diplomas on the walls don't mean squat when they don't care about a patients well being.

Re:See a doctor (5, Insightful)

ptolemu (322917) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289197)

I for one am quite paranoid when it comes to my health and refuse to search the Internet for this very reason. I have to admit though that it can just as easily have the opposite effect. But really, the best thing to do is ask someone with medical knowledge, it really is the only thing that has taken my mind off of worrying about benign symptoms.

Re:See a doctor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8289232)

Yep, same here. I think I am slightly hypochondriac, and until about a year ago would type my symptoms into google - which made things about a thousand times worse, with pictures of some vile disease in its advanced stages. So when I had a pain in my balls, I went to the doctor after a week, who prodded around, and pronounced me absolutely fine. I'm glad I didn't search for 'pain in testacles' on google. I'm not going to now, either.

Re:See a doctor (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8289279)

I'm glad I didn't search for 'pain in testacles' on google.


Yeah, it's probably a good thing, 'cause you wouldn't have found much. Not much useful, anyway.

-- ba-dum!
-- Sorry about that, couldn't resist...

Re:See a doctor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8289444)

try "pain in teNtacles" - that should give some scary results as well :D

Iatrogenic? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8289227)

Look up the word.A major cause of death and disease.
Also check out the ranking of "medical misadventure" in morbidity/mortality tables.
Increase automated diagnostic technologies and remove the doctor as gateway to pharaceuticals and we can take control over our own health.

Re:See a doctor (5, Interesting)

glen604 (750214) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289241)

I think most hypochondriacs try to avoid seeing doctors because doctors won't give creedence to their personal opinions about what they think they have. It seems most of them (hypochondriacs, not doctors) are more looking for sympathy than an actual solution to whatever perceived problem they might have.

Re:See a doctor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8289313)

Please don't just take Glen604's words as absolute truth about hypochindriacs. Be sure to ask a psychiatrist too.

Re:See a doctor (5, Insightful)

Snad (719864) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289243)

Doctors vists are a great way to get [peace] of mind, which IMO is well worth the cost/hassle.

Whilst that's undoubtedly true, a lot of (mostly male) people are reluctant to visit their doctor, for a number of reasons. For men it usually comes down to macho "I'm fine, really" attitudes, whereas for women it's often due to them being uncomfortable discussing certain issues with (perhaps) their male doctor.

Personally I did research a minor health issue I had before visiting my doctor and was gratified to find I was right with my own amateur diagnosis. That doesn't mean I sit in my darkened plastic bubble breathing filtered air and spend all day on the internet finding exotic and fascinating diseases I can convince myself I have.

I believe this "cyberchondria" is like all other internet-afflicted problems. Those who are already prone to certain mental attitudes will simply use the internet to go overboard. Whether that's researching health matters, looking at porn, or surfing Slashdot all day is largely irrelevant. There will always be a small percentage of people who have an addictive personality. The rest of us will continue to find the [health information/porn/Slashdot] useful without getting psychotic about it.

Re:See a doctor (5, Interesting)

Awptimus Prime (695459) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289250)

Doctors vists are a great way to get piece of mind, which IMO is well worth the cost/hassle.


While this is true, I do not trust a doctor to not make mistakes. For instance, my reading online has caused friction between myself and a doctor I used to visit. He gave me a presciption, I looked it up online, found the dosage he gave me was far smaller than anything I had seen written. Upon asking him about it, he advised not reading websites when it comes to drugs. What about the drug company's website? What if you are curious how the drug works or how it was tested before coming to the market? How about the LD50 and side effects in animal testing? What about alternative medications? Ah yes, the doctor isn't making a profit if he's not pushing sheepish patients out the door as quickly as possible, with no questions.

I will tend to take a doctor's advice, but no doctor's opinion is absolute. I would like to know why he chose a particular drug and dosage. I would also like to know some things about the medication that most people would prefer not to think about. While I wish I could find myself in a stupor of feeling comfort in what other people tell me, I can not escape the need to verify information given to me from multiple sources.

Re:See a doctor (5, Insightful)

Robert1 (513674) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289326)

Oh god. Yes the doctor is part of a vast conspiracy to screw you out of money.

Could you have thought that maybe, just maybe, he really did care about making you feel better, and perhaps that's why he was doing his job?

So his dosage was low, maybe in his experience such a dosage works fine, or whatever you had was unique enough for him to lack an encyclopedic knownowledge of. He's only human and can't possibly know everything or keep up with every drug out there.

Seriously, not everything is a conspiracy, people are just human.

Re:See a doctor (3, Insightful)

SurgeonGeneral (212572) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289358)

He gave me a presciption, I looked it up online, found the dosage he gave me was far smaller than anything I had seen written. Upon asking him about it, he advised not reading websites when it comes to drugs. What about the drug company's website? What if you are curious how the drug works or how it was tested before coming to the market?

I'll go ahead and answer those questions for you. (It doesnt matter what the drug is)

According to the drug company's website, the drug is the best thing ever. According to the company's pre-market testing, it went better than ever.

The reason he told you not to listen to the Internet when trying to get informed about drugs is because the drug companies are in SERIOUS competition with each other and will do just about anything to get you to take their's. You go online and become concerned your doctor didnt prescribe you enough of the drug? Well then you are exactly the kind of person that this article is talking about.

Re:See a doctor (2, Interesting)

guardian-ct (105061) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289394)

Of course, it's still possible that he didn't prescribe a high enough dosage. Or that he was doing it because he wanted to see how you reacted to a low dose before upping it. Either way, he probably should have explained what he was doing, instead of blaming the patient for looking at a website.

Many doctors don't like taking the time to explain things, since (at least the way I think they might see it) it takes time away from their other patients, and/or golf.

Amen. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8289402)

"Ah yes, the doctor isn't making a profit if he's not pushing sheepish patients out the door as quickly as possible, with no questions."

Years ago, my son was having a bad reaction to poison ivy. He was about 6 at the time. My wife took him to the doctor, and the doctor was puzzled about how bad the reaction was. He has very very white, delicate skin, and I knew he was just susceptable to stuff like that.

But the Doctor, oh no, he sent him to a skin doctor, who didn't want to deal with it, so he perscribed a drug I'd never heard of. My wife called and I told her I'd look it up on the internet.

Turns out, this stuff was so potent, that once you start taking it, it shuts down the body's ability to use and regulate certain key portions of his immuno system. You can't just stop taking it either, or it could cause serious reactions.

Holy shit! For a 6 year old! And no warning.

I told my wife to pour it down the drain. My son's poison ivy cleared up in 5 days. But that poison he was pushing. Cripes.

What a moron. It verged on malpractice. But what could you do? Doctors stick up for each other, and I would end up looking like the idiot over a stupid doctor perscribing stupid medicines.

Don't trust doctors blindly. Do programmer's make mistakes? Lots. I feel confident doctors have about the same mistake rate.

Re:See a doctor (3, Insightful)

plankers (27660) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289267)

...unless your doctor is inept, doesn't care, misinformed/has old information, or is just too busy to make a good diagnosis. You are still your own best advocate, especially in matters of health. The point is not that your doctor should be your sole source of medical information, but that you should use him or her as an additional one. It is also common to get a second opinion and/or a referral to a specialist if you didn't like your physician's response, or didn't feel that they were as informed as you'd like.

It's just like security -- security is better when there are humans involved to make rational decisions. It's the same with your health.

Re:See a doctor (0)

GonzoDave (743486) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289274)

Doctors vists are a great way to get piece of mind, which IMO is well worth the cost/hassle.

Surely the whole point of hypochondria is that they don't want peace of mind?

Re:See a doctor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8289362)

Not always.

In my forties, I started developing hemmeroids, and they'd last for 2 weeks and be quite painful.

After living with it for a year or two, I did a little reading on the internet and found the best way to treat them, and reduced the suffering time from 2 weeks to about 3 days. And it was easy stuff.

So I like the information. But its like computer information... most people (including those here on /.) don't have a clue on how to deal with computer maladies. So they look on the internet and make it worse. I assume the same is true for health... see a doctor if its something serious... i.e. pissing blood. But most things we have are common and not serious. Even though it might feel that way for a week until your body heals itself.

Re:See a doctor (5, Insightful)

spectecjr (31235) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289419)

If you are concerned about something health related the best advice I can give is DON'T LOOK ON THE INTERNET and see a doctor. Doctors vists are a great way to get piece of mind, which IMO is well worth the cost/hassle.

Doctors can also be (pick several):

1. Only Human, not Omnipotent AllSeeing DemiGods.
2. Overworked.
3. Reduced to a 15 minute visit per person, max - when the average visit used to be a much larger figure only 20 years ago.
4. Not always up on the latest research and/or information.
5. Quick to dismiss other possibilities after arriving at a single conclusion, even if other evidence presents itself.

Analyzing the data effectively can give you an edge over a doctor. You know your body. You know how it should work. Just be comprehensive in your analysis, and don't leave anything out.

I was once diagnosed with tendonitis. The actual cause of the problems I was experiencing was a small boil in my armpit (due to using antiperspirants). The lump was pressing against a nerve, giving all of the same symptoms as tendonitis (the nerves are quite exposed there). Several visits later, and I diagnose the problem myself. A short course of antibiotics later, and the problem was completely gone.

Another example:

I was diagnosed with borderline sleep apnea by a sleep medicine center. I was waking up with severe headaches every morning, and had a wildly variable sleep cycle. The idea would have been to go on a CPAP machine, and see if I got better.

What was the real problem?

I'm sensitive to caffeine. I don't get the jitters or get hyper - I just get anxious. I metabolise it so quickly that in my sleep, I'd be undergoing caffeine withdrawal. That was what the headaches were. I cut out caffeine, and everything's fine now. I'm much more confident, happier, and have *no* headaches when I wake up.

Doctors aren't infallible. If they were, they'd be magicians. They're not - they're just human. Treat them accordingly.

Pharmaceutical Industry? (5, Interesting)

Hyperbolix (214002) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289150)

Maybe this is due to the growth in the Pharmaceutical industry in the United States. With advertisements on TV for drugs to cure diseases people haven't even heard of, its logical that consumers will respond. The wealth of information that is available on the internet is mind boggling to most, and I was not surprised to hear about this.

Re:Pharmaceutical Industry? (5, Funny)

kurosawdust (654754) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289225)

With advertisements on TV for drugs to cure diseases people haven't even heard of, its logical that consumers will respond.

Don't forget the extremely vague and universal symptoms listed in the advertisements:

If you've ever felt depressed, disappointed, been discouraged, or have in any way failed to any extent in any endeavor you have ever attempted, ask your doctor about Lobotomol.

Re:Pharmaceutical Industry? (5, Funny)

KrispyKringle (672903) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289281)

Are you afraid of bad things happening? Do you worry occasionally? Do you dislike uncomfortable social situations, or occasionally feel out of place? Do you sometimes think you may have said the wrong thing, or wish you were better at something? These are all symptoms of severe depression, an illness that effects nobody except you. It isn't normal to feel this way, and you probably are very ill.

Depression is caused by neurochemical imbalances that result in you being a social outcast and a freak. But don't worry! Help is here! New Placeboflexin is designed to treat these symptoms, so you can resume your regular life. Ask your doctor if Placeboflexin is right for you.

In clinical trials, subjects reported headache, dry mouth, and nausea in about the same proportions as those taking placebos. Placeboflexin might not be right for you. Ask your doctor.

Re:Pharmaceutical Industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8289378)

it's worse then "that Depression is May be caused by neurochemical imbalances that result in you being a social outcast and a freak. But don't worry! Help is here! New Placeboflexin is designed to treat these symptoms, so you can resume your regular life. Ask your doctor if Placeboflexin is right for you. "

Re:Pharmaceutical Industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8289454)

Or, as in the case of a recent ER episode that I happened upon flipping channels, the doctor prescibed "Obecalp" (Placebo backwards) for a guy who, although perfectly healthy, *insisted* there was something wrong with him. :-)

Re:Pharmaceutical Industry? (2, Insightful)

guardian-ct (105061) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289303)

Or the ones they show before they have FDA approval, which merely have a few interesting images, like flowers in a field, or pets playing in the yard. Then they state the name of the product, and say "ask your doctor about product-of-the-month". That's it, no information about what the drug treats, because they haven't gotten the complete approval yet.

Ha!

Re:Pharmaceutical Industry? (5, Funny)

orthogonal (588627) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289316)

If you've ever felt depressed, disappointed, been discouraged, or have in any way failed to any extent in any endeavor you have ever attempted, ask your doctor about Lobotomol.

I... didn't... get...

my... last... comment...

modded... up...

to... +5....

I'm a... failure...

will... Lobotomol (TM)

help me?

Re:Pharmaceutical Industry? (2, Interesting)

Gherald (682277) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289395)

Don't forget the extremely vague and universal symptoms listed in the advertisements

And thats not even my favorite part... It's crazy how most of those ads show 'happy images' for like 60 seconds while listing off the potential side effects.

Re:Pharmaceutical Industry? (4, Funny)

bruthasj (175228) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289399)

Don't forget the extremely vague and universal symptoms listed in the advertisements:

Please discontinue use if you have or will have the following side effects:

Blood clots, coronary heart failure, tumors, deepened depression, leukemia, warts, common cold, severe vomiting, minor vomiting, toothaches, headaches, migraines, vision problems, ear ringing, hair loss, genetic mutations, muscle tension, athletes foot, jock itch ...

Re:Pharmaceutical Industry? (2, Insightful)

Sad Loser (625938) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289428)


This is certainly true, and there are many instances of big pharma promoting drugs for unlicensed usage, or made up [bmjjournals.com] diseases [bmjjournals.com]

The problem is not just big pharma per se, but also the way it funds special interest groups (e.g. Multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis) to campaign [bmjjournals.com] for wildly expensive drugs of dubious efficacy. This is the malignant end of astroturfing, and many of these supposedly educational sites have a message "this drug works and your doctor better give it to you".
Unfortunately these sort of 'infomercial'/'advertorial' websites do not come under any advertising control body, especially if they are produced at arms length by a 'charity/ self help group'.

I know GPs (Family Physicians) in affluent areas who spend a lot of their time fending off the 'worried well' who look up stuff on the internet. It is actually these people, rather than the true cyberchondriac (who are relatively easy to spot) who make our life difficult, as they haven't bothered to learn probability or epidemiology on their trawl through the websites.

please help me (2, Funny)

segment (695309) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289477)

The wealth of information that is available on the internet is mind boggling to most, and I was not surprised to hear about this

I just found out I suffer from slashdoticus postlotticus a rare disorder include me in your mailings for future medications. If and only if you're paying .10 for pill and charging me $10.00 thank you.

Cybercondria?! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8289151)

Oh no!!! I think I have this! What's the treatment?

mis-diagnosis (5, Insightful)

noelo (661375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289157)

But sometimes doctors are wrong and mis-diagnose problems. If someone believes that they have a problem well then they can research it before looking for a second opinion

Re:mis-diagnosis (2, Insightful)

fingers1122 (636011) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289287)

Ok, here's a question for you: Who do you think is better equipped to deal with medical problems? A doctor whose career consists of diagnosing and fixing health-related problems or Average Joe Hypochondriac with an Internet connection?

For a second opinion, one should consult another doctor--not the Internet! The only use the Internet has in a situation like this is for researching information after one has received a formal diagnosis from a doctor. People without medical degrees should not go Willy Nilly, searching the Internet, trying to diagnose their affliction, and believing that they know about their health than doctors do.

Re:mis-diagnosis (2, Insightful)

guardian-ct (105061) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289338)

Check with your doctor. Mine specifically encourages me to check things out on the net.

Of course, he warned against some of the more "out-there" sites that make extravagant claims. "This new patented product will make your ___ get bigger, your mind faster, your personal relationships perfect, and cure any cancer you might have"

Most people know their own bodily symptoms much better than a doctor who only sees it once a month or even less. Doctors are not God, despite playing Him on TV. They may be good, but do you know what they call the guy who graduated from medical school in last place? "Doctor"

Re:mis-diagnosis (1)

noelo (661375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289366)

I didn't say that people should use the internet as a second opinion. I said that they are now able to do some research before seeking a second opinion. Doctors like anybody else make mistakes, their opinions are not, nor will they ever be, final. I have known people who have gone to multiple doctors who have given multiple different opinions over the years.

Re:mis-diagnosis (3, Interesting)

beeplet (735701) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289409)

I happen to think that being confined to my body 24/7 does in fact make me more qualified to identify problems than a doctor who askes two questions and takes my temperature. And yes, it is hard to find a doctor who has the time to do anything more than that. No doctor has ever told me something I didn't already know or even suggest originally suggest myself. If the internet makes information available to the "average Joe" I think it can only improve the quality of health care (not to mention the above-average Joe who is not a hypochondriac and doesn't necessarily believe something just because it was posted to the internet). Sure, doctors have many years of training. But that's because they have to cover all possible diseases. I only have to research the ones that might apply to me, so the argument that I don't have 10 years of training doesn't really hold.

Re:mis-diagnosis (4, Interesting)

Amiga Lover (708890) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289334)

I tell you what though, this article could be me exactly. This post may sound like a joke but I'm laying out some of my personal life here, so you can all live with that.

Probably in the last few years I've had anxiety related problems and occasionally look up information on the medication I'm on (I've been on a few types). It's not hard to sometimes get the symptoms from just something you read about.

I had an ache down my left arm which in the end turned out to be from a pulled muscle that eased up, but I read all about heart attacks and convinced myself I was having one one night. Off to hospital in an ambulance all night to be checked and needled just to make sure. Everything was fine. Now I'm in the habit of rubbing my arm in that spot, and of course that triggers the nerve there which brings about chest pains, little stabbing pains in my back and side of my ribs.

Of course then reading about heart attacks I came across information on why they're caused, one being blood clots in veins caused by sitting still, so now any ache in my legs I get guilty feelings of having clotting, then I'll get a twitch in my eye or head, and think "OMG IT'S A STROKE". It's freaking weird how carried away my mind can get.

Looking at it logically, I visited my sister for a week, and forgot all about the problems, and the symptoms were gone. I came back home, no problems at all, then came across an old email from a heart attack forum. Suddenly my symptoms reappear!

This must make it terrible for doctors, as just by reading about problems I've been tested for blood clots, heart irregularities and heart attacks, blood pressure and beating monitoring 24 hours a day, blood sugar and you name it it just goes on.

I know most people don't have the tendency to anxiety and worry that I do, and really it's a middle sized problem in my life, but something I can mostly deal with and my doctor too, when there's nothing else on top, but with a large percentage of the population anxiety prone like me, and a large percentage of THOSE online, this has to be making some incredible extra work for doctors, while making them all the more skeptical of the genuine patients who do present with heart problems, etc.

Natural Selection (-1, Troll)

NineNine (235196) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289158)

People stupid enough to diagnose their own health problems based on shit they see on the web should either 1. Die from misdiagnosis or 2. Fail to breed because they become basket cases. I mean really... The web is a nifty little toy for communicating with friends, buying commodity items, and reading the AP wire or checking the weather, but health stuff? No way. That's insane. Of course, these are the same people who seek legal advice on Slashdot...

Re:Natural Selection (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8289295)

Someone pooped in your cheerios, didn't they?

Oh no! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8289162)

Now I find out I have Cyberchondria!! Is there any treatment??

Why bother with google? (5, Funny)

filtur (724994) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289163)

I come to Slashdot for my legal and health advice.

Re:Why bother with google? (4, Funny)

telekon (185072) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289351)

I come to Slashdot for my legal and health advice.

I assume that you're not worried about the pending legal action against you since probably have less than six months to live?

Ignorance is bliss (4, Interesting)

Ghoser777 (113623) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289167)

I guess Cypher was right. Although I guess imagine the analogous alternate story:

"Because of the internet's recent collapse because of massive slashdotting, the whole world was left to wonder how they would ever find out how to get from their house to the nearest blockbuster without Mapquest or how to do a research project without Google."

Perhaps people who can't handle too much information should stay away from the internet before they freak themselves out. One hundred years ago, someone could have written how a Library had the same effect, bringing all that information in one place to freak people out who are easily freaked out.

Matt Fahrenbacher

They ought to be checking something else... (3, Insightful)

vicparedes (701354) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289175)

it is becoming very easy for the health-anxious to believe that they have a disease
I'm beginning to think it's not physical health that North America should be worried about. It's people's heads that need to be examined.

Medical students syndrome (5, Interesting)

securitas (411694) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289178)


You don't have to be a hypochondriac to experience it. It's also known as medical students' syndrome, where perfectly normal and reasonable medical students self-diagnose themselves with diseases and illnesses that they are studying about. It's also been known as psychology students' syndrome for obvious reasons.

Re:Medical students syndrome (4, Funny)

0xfc (737668) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289284)

I was running healthd on my FreeBSD server. It reported my chip was running warm.

I felt my forehead and yup, I had a temperature and fever.

Re:Medical students syndrome (3, Interesting)

Moses Lawn (201138) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289381)

Too true there. When I was in college, I knew a number of psych majors. Every single one of them was - not nuts, but they had - issues. They would read about how the brain and psychological development processes work and apply that to themselves -- "Hey, *this* explains a lot. *That's* what goes on inside my head!" Then they get into the more advanced abnormal psych courses, and they really start to go off the end. All of a sudden they've figured out why they're so screwed up or why they can't keep a normal relationship. See, it's right in this book here.

Mind you, this doesn't address the issue of whether they went into the field precisely because they wanted to figure out the mess, or if they were messed up before they started. But it seemed to be universal, and it brings up a lot of questions about the stability and effectiveness of a lot of the working shrinks out there.

I guess the real problem is that if you apply theory to yourself, you have to be really careful to maintain some perspective, and not assume it all applies perfectly to you. And that's not easy, I can tell you.

Gloom and doom. (4, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289180)


It's easier to figure out you don't have a disease online than to be convinced you have one.

Life imitates satire? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8289183)

Methinks yes. [theonion.com]

There are also advantages to this online DR. (4, Insightful)

LinuxBSDNotSCO (738941) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289195)

I see their point in the negitive side of online medical documentation but we must also see the benifit. Dr. Sam Gidding's papers on colesteral helped me lower mine with out having to spen hundreds of dollars on an RD. I see the negitives but I feel the positives greatly out weigh them.

Like everything else... (4, Insightful)

soapbox (695743) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289196)

Hey, information can be used in many ways. Providing it makes it easier for regular people to really learn, and for paranoiacs to dive deeper into their (mis)perceptions of ill physical health.

On the other hand, with all we know, it's hard for any doctor to just say "you're fine!" and know that it's a fact. I'm sure many of us have had a problem (and please, let's not list them on /.) that either baffled a doctor or a series of doctors; perhaps some issues remain unresolved. But let's not shoot the messenger. Providing information about making bombs and providing information that drives hypochondriacs deeper into their sickness are the same thing.

Most information is neutral--blame the users of that information.

Re:Like everything else... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8289263)

That's right! Why are we so pissed off about Pakistan teaching, eg, North Korea how to make nuclear weapons? Information wants to be free. We should blame only North Korea when they nuke Seoul, not Pakistan.

So true.. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8289201)


An office mate in his late 20's was always reading online about various things.. About a year ago he started having bad coughs. Looked it up online and said he had "Adult Onset Asthma." After a few weeks that self-diagnosis changed to "Walking Pneumonia." The last self-diagnosis was "Congestive Heart Failure" and he may need a heart transplant.

I kid you not.

So he finally
Bottom line, all this sickness happened after a bad job review. Now he's on disability milking the system. That pisses me off as it means that my HMO got suckered and we all have to pay.

Ralph Nader is running for President in 2004!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8289206)

Now we don't have to vote for a fake Bush Lite Progressive like Kerry!
After all he killed innocent communists during the war in Vietnam!

Researchers discover Pope shits in woods (-1, Offtopic)

GonzoDave (743486) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289207)

Who did they think was keeping the medical spammers afloat all this time?

Stumping doctors too (5, Interesting)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289210)

This sort of thing is stumping doctors.

A patient walks in and immediately tells the doctor he thinks he has Berringer-Klopp syndrome. The doctor then excuses himself for a moment and has to dig up one of those rare diseases books. A few minutes later, he tells the man that he probably just has a case of warts.

That's the problem with Medical school students as well; people will immediately think of the rarest diseases. It's probably just a cold or a early flu, but people suspect that they have a case of Tularemia. It's the equivalent of hearing hoofbeats and thinking that its Zebras.

Re:Stumping doctors too (1)

Spoing (152917) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289407)

  1. That's the problem with Medical school students as well; people will immediately think of the rarest diseases. It's probably just a cold or a early flu, but people suspect that they have a case of Tularemia. It's the equivalent of hearing hoofbeats and thinking that its Zebras.

Zebras? AHAHAHAHAHA!

Re:Stumping doctors too (1)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289478)

Dr. Hibbert: "You have the Homer Simpson syndrome."
Homer Simpson: "Why me!?"

To all you hypochondriacs: (-1, Troll)

Zemrec (158984) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289211)

It's true! You're sick! You're dying at this very moment! In fact, everyone on the planet has got it! We're all doomed! Oh the humanity!

this has nothing to do with internet/www (3, Informative)

porky_pig_jr (129948) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289222)

a very well known and common symptom. before internet those affected just looked through the medical references ...

Ask Slashdot (1)

maliabu (665176) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289253)

is it why we get so many questions in "Ask Slashdot"?

people keep asking for medical advice, legal advice, family advice etc, and people keep replying IANAL, IANAD, IANAC etc...

So I'm OK? (2, Funny)

PhotoBoy (684898) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289261)

So this means my self diagnosis of having housemaid's knee is incorrect then?

Re:So I'm OK? (1)

Anomalous Cowturd (673181) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289432)

No, it was right on the money. But I gotta ask ya, is getting the promotion that important that you have to give up your health?

I just hope the medical plan covers this.

Keep away from doctors and hospitals (4, Interesting)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289264)

I'll bet hypochondriacs do get ill more often than normal. When anyone gets sick, catches a disease or even thinks they have, they go and see their doctor or go to their hospital. That makes doctors waiting rooms and hospitals ideal exchange points for many many communicable diseases.

Re:Keep away from doctors and hospitals (1)

Idarubicin (579475) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289309)

I'll bet hypochondriacs do get ill more often than normal. When anyone gets sick, catches a disease or even thinks they have, they go and see their doctor or go to their hospital. That makes doctors waiting rooms and hospitals ideal exchange points for many many communicable diseases.

Yes, but since the waiting rooms are full of other hypochondriacs, they shouldn't be able to catch anything.

Re:Keep away from doctors and hospitals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8289356)

That makes doctors waiting rooms and hospitals ideal exchange points for many many communicable diseases.

That's why I take my health advice from slashdot...

I thought the meaning of Cyberchondria... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8289268)

was blaming a virus anytime you are to dumb to find the real problem.

Insurance plays a role in this (3, Insightful)

gregwbrooks (512319) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289270)

When people aren't responsible for the true cost of their health care, there's little incentive not to investigate every ache and pain, real or imagined.

I'm not saying insurance is a bad thing, but insurance that says "yes, you can have open heart surgery for $5" is going to affect patient behavior, no way around it.

Re:Insurance plays a role in this (1)

guardian-ct (105061) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289482)

Actually, there is an incentive not to investigate every little thing.

It's called "painful medical tests".

Personally? (4, Funny)

Stradenko (160417) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289283)

I suffer from diabetes, hypochondria, narcisicm and schitzophrenia. I used to have breast cancer, ,but it got better.

File suit! (3, Funny)

Garridan (597129) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289293)

Obviously, these health websites are doing nothing but aggravate hypochondriacs by adding stress to their lives. They should rally together, and file a class action lawsuit! It's the American Way!

Information only. (0)

Tom-the-Great (752644) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289302)

I think people should be able to seek medical information from the web easiler, however I don't think people should be just relying on the information from the Internet. It's much easier for a web developer to make a mistake then a real doctor.

The hypochondria pill... (5, Funny)

thecountryofmike (744040) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289315)

Sooner or later, the marketing guru's at Pfizer will figure out they can sell sugar pills to cure hypochondria.

Wait, that's a GREAT idea! I need to become a marketing guru for Pfizer...

oops, time for my soma...

Doctors (4, Insightful)

AvengerXP (660081) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289319)

"Many continue poring through the easily available medical information even after their doctors have given them a clean bill of health."

And they should, because doctors can't differenciate a Headache from Meningitis if they caught it contagiously and then they died from it. Seriously, a 2 minute talk with a doctor and i can get out of there with about any brand of pills i actually researched a little. For example.

"Hey doc, i'm having panic attacks, do you think i should get Rivotril? My friend's friend used to have those, and she said it works well."

"Sure, here have these, take X per X hours/days"

"Thanks doc"

2 minutes. Only 2. It's come more to social charisma contests than actual diagnostics. Not to mention about doctors who dont even try anymore. You have panic disorder? Try some Morphine.

Help! (2, Funny)

wittyesotericmoniker (743663) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289335)

There's this web site that says I have a condition known as Bad Karma but my doctor says it's nothing to worry about. Who should I believe?

the fearful always suffer (4, Interesting)

theCat (36907) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289342)

There is no way to help the fearful. Unabated fear of disease or malformation is sort of a narcisistic thing; makes them feel special and the constant complaining is how they gather more attention to themselves than they would normally justify.

I know, the hypochondriacs in the readership will say they have a special mental condition and need lifelong treatment, and there really is no cure. Well that just proves my point, doesn't it?

As for the impact of Google on all this; I recently suffered some kind of respiratory impact, and after two weeks of coughing woke up in the night feeling I could not breath. A call to the hospital assured me that I was in grave danger and I should call emergency aid. After thinking on this and listening to my body a while I decided to tough it out, and finally slept the rest of the night. Later the next day I had an exam and x-rays, which x-rays came back abnormal (metastatic cancer indication) which I didn't buy at all because I didn't fit the profile for metastatic cancer. I Googled some things and based on sound evidence decided I had a rare respiratory fungus. More x-rays and some consultations and the doctor said that OK I didn't have cancer, and he didn't know what I had, and it might be a rare respiratory fungus (!) and he would need to cut my chest open to see, which would land me in the hospital for 3 days (at a time when I am needing to find a job). I declined, of course.

Still have a cough of sorts, but getting better. I think the clue to health is to insist on being healthy despite the continued pressure to be otherwise. In this regard Google (and a clear head, and some experience working in a hospital X-ray lab) gave me the resources to stay on my feet at a time when I really needed to.

Like every other kind of tool, using the Internet takes skill and sometimes courage. And no I still don't have a job, so every day still counts.

Yup, I'm one of those... (5, Insightful)

Vincman (584156) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289346)

Interesting that it comes up now, because after reading about Asperger Syndrome [udel.edu] in this Slashdot-article [slashdot.org] a few days ago, I actually went to an AS-support group and asked whether I had it. Embarrassing, I know. Luckily the people on the forum turned out to be quite friendly and as it turns out my symptoms are more related to a mild case of social phobia [socialanxi...titute.com] .
If something is wrong with a person, the internet can serve as a useful tool during the initial information-finding phase. The unguided nature of the internet does carry the risk of misidentifying or imagining diseases or conditions. It should therefore never be used as a substitute for professional help!

Newsflash! (3, Funny)

Dragoon412 (648209) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289379)

Late, breaking news:

OCD sufferers report rise in symptoms due to abundance of light switches and sinks with soap nearby!

In unrelated news, schizophrenic patient spends 4 hours yelling at convenience store security camera about CIA stealing his brain waves! ...really guys, this is less article-worthy and more "duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh" worthy. I've heard more insightful commentary from an empty bottle of Guinness.

I'm one (2, Insightful)

apoplectic (711437) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289412)

I think I'm slowly slipping into this category. I get a pain (actually, I've got a few right now) and I feel the need to do something diagnostic about it...right then. So, I research what ills me via Google or WebMD. To me, this is no different than researching that funny noise my hard drive is making or the source of a system error of some sort. Have a problem? Research it online.

And the truth is, after reading this stuff over and over and applying amateur diagnostic methods I can come up with the most hideous of diseases. Sad thing is, I can't simply run some system util to fix things. So, I slowly become more and more worried. Obsessive even.

It seems quite logical to research this stuff. But I can't suppress the urge to keep reading. And I have difficulties suppressing the worries this process induces.

Another trend... (3, Insightful)

MoreDruid (584251) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289416)

Last year I went on a holiday and I scraped my knee on a rock with some algae on it. About a month later I had a rash on that same spot. I looked it up on the Internet, and I found that there were more general sites that had "information" about my rash than there were real medical sites. According to the popular sites I had all kinds of weird diseases. A short checkup on a real site (I thought a .edu carried a bit more weight than health.com) revealed that this was common among divers, and very easy to cure (rubbing the sore spot with baby-lotion).

I think there's a wrong trend that sites that should not give this kind of information are the ones that are listed on top in a Google search. As usual on the internet, apply common sense first... but a lot of people read it, and if it's on a popular site... well, it must be true then of course. I did check with my uncle later on (he's a doctor) and he confirmed my research, diagnosis & cure. He also confirmed that the trend I noticed is a pain in the butt for most doctors, because a lot of people tend to think they have something dramatic (bragging rights on a tea party perhaps?) while they don't. He says consult times have a longer duration now because not only does he have to diagnose & write out a prescription if needed, but he also has to tell the patient his or her issue is not that grave.

Maybe there should be a page called "Healthy" (4, Insightful)

nounderscores (246517) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289423)

It just contains pictures and information about what your body would look like and act like if it was normal. This means it has gross pictures of things that people would get alarmed at if they didn't know it was normal.

Today's editorial: "That's not a wart."

On the other hand (1)

alehmann (50545) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289438)

It's reassuring to have a hypothesis of what's wrong with you. When I make guesses based on medical information available on the internet, I'm often right. Having a hypothesis makes it easier for a doctor to diagnose the problem.

The Only Cure... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8289463)

...Is to kill yourself.

The prognosis doesn't look good (-1, Troll)

KalvinB (205500) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289472)

You are all diseased.

You are the all singing, all dancing crap of the world.

I suggest you all wash your hands and go to bed before you infect the rest of us.

Ben

Relying on that for med advice is bad anyway (3, Interesting)

dacarr (562277) | more than 10 years ago | (#8289476)

I among other people on rec.pets.cats.health+behav constantly tell people coming to us for advice to take their cat to the vet if the cat isn't peeing for a few days. I'd think that first person advice for ANY medicine is common sense.

Besides, you can't make a diagnosis without seeing the problem for the most part, unless it's painfully obvious (Nail in the hand? Well, obviously you have a nail in your hand!).

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...