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Meet Web Hypochondriacs

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the we're-all-crazy-on-some-level dept.

The Internet 587

prostoalex writes "When Jerome K. Jerome in 1889 described going to the British Museum to read medical encyclopedia and subsequently finding symptoms of almost all diseases in his body, he didn't realize the problem would exacerbate more than a century later. Web hypochondriacs are calling up doctors with requests for prescriptions for all sorts of diseases, since they discovered some similar symptoms on the Web. Wall Street Journal quotes a doctor: 'My impression is that people believe more of what they read than what I tell them. It seems that traditional Western medicine based on scientific evidence is less and less trusted by the general public. Meanwhile, some dubious theory from the Internet will be swallowed hook, line and sinker nine times out of 10.' "

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uh oh (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13102877)

I think I may be stricken with Frost Pistitus!

Re:uh oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13103003)

This was funny (and no, I wasn't the poster.) The mods here are fucktards.

OMG! (5, Funny)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102889)

That sounds EXACTLY like the problem *I* have!!!!

I hope there's a cure...

Because Big Business is Bad (2, Insightful)

GuitarNeophyte (636993) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102949)

It's probably because almost all of the research is funded by corporations that make themselves sound good. I mean, I'd rather trust someone who I didn't know, but I considered a *regular guy* instead of a paid researcher who told what to find. I mean, word of mouth advertising versus reading magazine advertisements. I'd believe word of mouth more.

Don't let your family be ignorant any more, send them to ChristianNerds.com [christiannerds.com] (The Free Online Computer Encyclopedia)

Re:Because Big Business is Bad (2, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103083)

It's probably because almost all of the research is funded by corporations that make themselves sound good. I mean, I'd rather trust someone who I didn't know, but I considered a *regular guy* instead of a paid researcher who told what to find.

Personally? I don't trust any of them. From the summary:

It seems that traditional Western medicine based on scientific evidence is less and less trusted by the general public.

Is this the same scientific evidence that said "Margarine is good", "Eggs are bad", and "We know about triglyceride problems, but we'll built the Food Pyramid this way because people are too stupid?" I'm sorry, all medical "science" does is stumble around in circles until they land on top of something remotely approaching the truth.

My take on it is, if you're actually sick (i.e. Unable to operate in some way, shape, or form), then go to the doctor. He may not be very precise, but he might just save your life. If you're not outright sick, then eat a wide variety of foods in moderate quantities and excercise. Forget about the doctors and their "fads of the week". Just do what you're going to do and enjoy your life. In the end you'll be far healthier just by being happy than you'll ever be through ravaging your body by fad diets and drugs.

Re:OMG! (4, Funny)

Gzip Christ (683175) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103068)

That sounds EXACTLY like the problem *I* have!!!!
I hope there's a cure...
You're in luck, I have just what you need. It's called Placebo(TM) and it's used far more widely than any "medicine". Coming soon to a spam near you.

No, I swear. (1, Funny)

HyperChicken (794660) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102892)

I have MSBlaster! And Slammer! No, you got to believe me. They keep attempt to spread from within me. It's very annoying and has cost me three friends already -- I can't loose many more! And this Norton Anti-Virus doesn't seem to be working. I don't even know where to put the CD!

The Web (3, Insightful)

bodester17 (892112) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102894)

I think the web is making everyone out to gullable. We all need to remember that there is a lot of FALSE information on the web. I think this applies to other things other than medicine. The web is giving a false sense of knowlege.

Re:The Web (4, Insightful)

audiodude (897858) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102926)

Unfortunately, this applies to Wikipedia, too. It's a great resource, and mostly accurate. But many things that people post might be hearsay, if only for the fact that they don't cite any sources. Without citations, how can you really trust anything you read there?

Re:The Web (1)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103049)

The whole purpose of Wikipedia is that anyone, absolutely anyone, can add information to a topic. This alone should cause people to be at least somewhat skeptical of what is posted there, but it seems like many people believe all of what they read without even questioning it. You could ask them if they know things on the internet can be false and they'll say yes, but there is some sort of mental disconnect between knowing this fact and applying it to what people actually read.

Re:The Web (4, Funny)

lanswitch (705539) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103099)

Without citations, how can you really trust anything you read there?
I'm sorry, but without proper citation, how can I know that your claim is true?

Re:The Web (2, Funny)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102942)

I think the web is making everyone out to gullable.

I agree. I doubt very much there really are web hypochondriacs. Only the truly gullible will believe this article.

Re:The Web (2, Funny)

NineNine (235196) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103008)

I agree. I doubt very much there really are web hypochondriacs. Only the truly gullible will believe this article.

Or maybe it's your post that only the gullible believe? Hmm... who to believe...?

Re:The Web (1)

RangerRick98 (817838) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103097)

I agree. I doubt very much there really are web hypochondriacs. Only the truly gullible will believe this article.
Or maybe it's your post that only the gullible believe? Hmm... who to believe...?
There should be an "Induces Headache" moderation option. I just can't figure out whether it would be +1 or -1.

Re:The Web (1)

cybersaga (451046) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102971)

The web is giving a false sense of knowlege.

It's not the web. It's people that create a lot of false information. Poeple have been believing them for centuries. The Internet just gives people a place to publish whatever idea they want, regardless of if it's true, to the world.

Re:The Web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13102993)

We all need to remember that there is a lot of FALSE information on the web.

I am willing to believe this, but only because I read it on the Internet.

Re:The Web (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13103025)

Even with the accurate information though, it doesn't provide context. Pretty much any set of medical symptoms can indicate a whole host of problems. Some of those problems are really bad, but most will go away in a couple days on their own. Even though you may have most of the symptoms of Ebola virus, you don't have Ebola virus. In med school you first learn evey possible disease, and then you learn what they're actually likely to have (and how to tell the difference).

A veternarian once told me about a horse disease where the third vet was the hero. Her teachers explained that the owner would take their horse to the vet, who wouldn't be able to help it. Eventually the owner would get fed up and try a new vet, who also wouldn't be able to help. Around the time the owner get fed up with the second vet, the disease has pretty much run its coarse, so the horse gets better no matter what the third vet does (which is disturbing if their third attempt was for "alternative" medicine).

I think that's a fine example of how two fine vets get made out to be idiots, while the third one gets to be proof that astrology works (at least in the eyes of one horse owner). I see the same sort of thing in people all the time.

The multitudes (1)

Iriel (810009) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103132)

I don't think it's just the web that's making people out to be fools lately. Personally, I think the root of it is peoples' growing desire for instant gratification. I think most people would rather not admit that they have the flu and that they'll feel miserable for two weeks until they get over it. Most of people I've met would rather look up symptoms on the net and find some condition that tells them they would only need to take 150mg of $foo for two days and be done that much quicker. The wealth of misinformation on the internet is a definate player in this field, but I think the root of the problem stems from the desire for a quick fix.

A brief history of Medicine (5, Funny)

XFilesFMDS1013 (830724) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102896)

2000 BC: Here, take this root.
1000 AD: That root is for a heathen. Here, say this prayer.
1850 AD: That prayer is superstition. Here, drink this potion.
1940 AD: That potion is snake oil. Here, swallow this pill.
1985 AD: That pill is ineffective. Here take this antibiotic.
2000 AD: That antibiotic is artificial. Here, eat this root.
2005 AD: That root works! Read about it on my blog!

Re:A brief history of Medicine (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102955)

2005 AD: That root works! Read about it on my blog!

It does work! I tried rooting my wife, but I just couldn't get it up. So I went down to the corner and hired a seamstress, that root worked! You can read about it on my blog for more details at http://www.omfgwtfbbq.com.au/ [omfgwtfbbq.com.au]

Re:A brief history of Medicine (1)

proteonic (688830) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102967)

Swap pill and antibiotic,and you'll have it right.
Antibiotics came into general use in the 40s, now they're becoming ineffective with the rise of resistant bacterial strains. Not that other pills are helping anything, but Viagra, Prozac, and the likes are ever more popular.

Re:A brief history of Medicine (5, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103022)

It's true though.

And in my opinion, there are two things that lead to better health:

1. Eat good food. I'm definitely as guilty as the rest (probably more so since I TRULY know better) that having the fresh vegetables, cutting back on starches and excess red meat is just better for you and your body will tell you so every morning you wake up from a single day of eating well. Don't believe me? Just for ONE DAY eat some soup and salad staying away from stuff with dairy and such. Just one day and see how you feel in the morning. If you still feel like crap I'll admit that I'm wrong.

2. Don't be "TOO CLEAN." If you don't exercise, you will become weak and slow. If your immune system isn't kept busy, it will also become weak and slow. I see people go to great lengths to avoid this and that only to be stricken down by the most simple of viruses or bacteria. Quit taking freakin' anti-biotics and let your own immune system handle stuff (when possible). (I'll never forget how a sister-in-law proclaimed my sons needed anti-biotics because the had sniffles. It's insanity.) I still can't remember the last time I've actually been "sick." Had a minor reaction from some KFC recently but that's about it. You don't have to be disgusting about it, but resist doing too much and leave the "anti-bacterial soap" on the store shelves -- you don't need it!

Re:A brief history of Medicine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13103084)

Where are the mod points when you need em...

Funny but sadly insightful (3, Insightful)

aepervius (535155) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103062)

Hyponchondriac is nothing. Alternativ medicine is more dangerous in my eye : people really ill getting alternative treatment and dying. And the web make for an exponential propagation of those despite that they are if not all, mostly junk.

Just have a look at all those totally supersticious claim and alternative medicine : homeopathy, colorotherapy, herbotherapy, crytsllotherapy, fengshui... Indeed we are in a demon haunted world [amazon.com].

I think education is the only answer, but how can you educate people when part of them learn that ID/creationism must be thaught in their class with the same footing than evolutionism, people misappropriate the definition of a theory in science, downright lie or misuse term they do not understand to support their own unscientific pet peeve, or even politic is used to support religious activity, even if there is a separation of church and state, downright disrespect, to not say hate, of science in all its form inclusive medicine.

For all wanting to learn a bit and start fighting against obscurantism I recommend this : James Randi Education Fundation [randi.org] (JREF I think it is called).

I think before solving hyponcondiacism we have to solve the problem of people believing in all sort of crap, and teach the tenet of the scientific method, or even if it is too much, at least teach back respect of science !!!

Frankly in comparison hyponchondriacism is nothing. It does not propagate as much damage...

I have diagnosed myself... (0, Redundant)

jmcmunn (307798) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102900)

I am a web hypochondriac...based on what I have read anyway. Who cares what the doc says.

E-mail? (3, Funny)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102905)

Web hypochondriacs are calling up doctors with requests for prescriptions for all sorts of diseases

I've got some e-mails about getting their pills if the doctor won't prescribe it.

Re:E-mail? (1)

sykjoke (899173) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103002)

This post is licenced under the GPL. You post is a prize example of why you can link against GPL code and not be requires to GPL your code. I suffer from, yes you can link against GPL stop giving me all that hypochondriac crap about not being able to.

It is usually because of the price. (1)

ID000001 (753578) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102909)

The prescriptions in real life getting from an actual doctor usually cost a lot, and most normal diseases, admittedly, are not 'urgent' by many people standard. If they can save some money, many are willing to try something they never heard of. Hey, worst is that they don't work and they will have to see a real doctor.

No, it is usually paranoia (1)

Mr Guy (547690) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102978)

Chalking it up to price is a very limited view of the problem. I know, my wife has this exact problem, to the point where I've had to threaten to block certain websites at the firewall. It has nothing to do with price. The problem that I see is the "warnings" on the internet are all vaguely worded enough to apply to almost any symptoms you have.

Her problem is she has a couple of very real health problems that require her to take some serious drugs with some nasty side effects. However, she has a nasty habit of thinking every new side effect is a new problem and looking up what it could be on the internet and thinking that's her problem.

Re:It is usually because of the price. (1)

drmike0099 (625308) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103089)

Actually, the worst is that, since they aren't doctors themselves, they miss the warning signs of a serious condition, treat themselves unsuccessfully based on some crap they read online, and 6 months later when they finally get around to seeing a doctor their condition is no longer treatable, or serious damage has been done during the delay. You'd be amazed at the myriad ways patients try to delay seeing a doctor, perhaps thinking that if no doctor has told them they're sick, they're not actually sick. This is just a new way, and it gives people the ability to blame something external to themselves for their bad decisions (the internet told me!).

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? (1)

westcoaster004 (893514) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102912)

Or... in the modern version of the question:

Which came first - the "web hypochondriac" who thought that he was suffering from impotence, having a small p---s, and an unsatisfied love life or the online Viagra pharmacy (in Canada, of all places)?

I know people like this (1)

Bob McCown (8411) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102914)

My ex, and her sister, are both like this. They'll take the wildest treatments for various things instead of just riding out a cold, or putting a bandaid on a cut. And, dont get them started on anything like surgery or radiation treatment, no.


Online database (1, Insightful)

mfloy (899187) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102916)

The fact is, people are going to use the web when they are ill to look for information about the illness. The best thing to do is to provide reliable data, so they don't end up diagnosing themselves based on information they found on a blog. The user could enter symptoms, and a list of possibilities could be listed (as well as numerous messages telling them to go see a doctor). It would be similar to the program Lisa uses to diagnose Homer and Bart as lepers.

But Duct Tape cures warts! (1)

DoorFrame (22108) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102917)

I know, I know, they're all quack theories... but what about this one [cbsnews.com]. I mean, just look at this site [gbronline.com] and all it's pictoral evidence.

Duct Tape, the savoir of mankind, can do anything it puts its mind to. First and foremost, it can cure plantar warts! Hooray.

Darn (2, Funny)

ToasterofDOOM (878240) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102922)

I got all excited when I saw the title and thought ... Wow! People get spyware just by convincing themselves it's there! Oh well. **Returns to Python**

On the flip side (3, Interesting)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102924)

It's nice to have the information researchable, so that you can get more information than what your doctor tells you. I've recently started suffering from eczema outbreaks, followed by a couple of nasty infections over the past year. I've seen several GPs, a couple of dermatologists, and an infectious disease specialist for the infection that keeps popping up all over my legs. Aside from the antibiotics, the things I've read about eczema on the web have helped me more than the vague advice given by the family doctors and dermatologists.

Re:On the flip side (1)

Peyna (14792) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103075)

A lot of times the problem isn't that the doctors are giving vague advice, it's that people aren't comfortable asking questions of their doctor, or they aren't comfortable answering their doctor's questions. However, they have no trouble asking strangers online, or a search engine these same questions.

A doctor can only do so much with the information given, and out of embarassment, a lot of people don't provide all the details they really should (like that extra little pain in your abdomen that is probably gas and you don't need to mention). A lot of you probably don't even realize you are like this, but think about all of your symptoms and then how many you revealed to the doctor the last time you visited and how many you didn't mention because you assumed they were unrelated.

Another form of Interns' Disease (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13102927)

"There is an interesting phenomenon that occurs amongst medical students, called Interns' Disease [uwm.edu]: when they are studying certain aspects of health, they become more aware of their own health."

I've said it before and I'll say it again (5, Insightful)

BlackCobra43 (596714) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102932)

WebMD is the worst thing to come along for Hypocondriacs since pneumoconiosis and other sesquipadelian afflictions.

Re:I've said it before and I'll say it again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13103067)

Stay away from WebMD if you suffer from even a mild case of Generalized Anxiety! Trust me, you don't want to go down that path. It's a nightmare.

Who listens to doctors? (4, Insightful)

Monte (48723) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102933)

Wall Street Journal quotes a doctor: 'My impression is that people believe more of what they read than what I tell them...

Of course! Because you're telling them things like "Stop smoking, don't drink so much, cut down the fat, get some excersize, brush your teeth and watch your diet". Who the hell wants to hear that? Websites aren't so much interested in your health as they are in getting ad impresions, so they probably aren't going to preach.

On the internet no one knows you're a fat lazy bastard with bad habits. [but if I were a betting man, that's where I'd put my money]

Re:Who listens to doctors? (3, Insightful)

vondo (303621) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103052)

Wall Street Journal quotes a doctor: 'My impression is that people believe more of what they read than what I tell them...

And part of the reason for that is that a doctor will talk to you for 2 minutes (or maybe just have his secretary talk to you on the phone, take notes, and call you back) and diagnose you. You, on the other hand, have spend hours looking into what might be wrong with you.

I've had exactly that happen. I was on anti-biotics for 20 days (two treatments) when the real problem was allergies. Going in and seeing someone led to a proper diagnosis. A lot of people are fed up with doctors, and not always for bad reasons.

Self-diagnosis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13102934)

IANAD, but I think if you find yourself reloading slashdot every five minutes whilst trying to accomplish real work, you probably should consider the possibility of attention deficit disorder [wikipedia.org].

My wife is like this... (4, Funny)

AccUser (191555) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102938)

My wife will get some symptom, and then scour books and the web for indications of possible diagnosis. I found it funny after a while, but the first couple of times she declared that she had cancer or MS was quite worrying.

The funniest thing is that my wife is a doctor.

Re:My wife is like this... (5, Funny)

Wudbaer (48473) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103031)

Don't tell me about it. I'm an MD by training, and it was always hell learning for exams. You are going through this really really big book full of crippling and lethal diseases, and not only lethal, but painful-disfiguring-debilitating-disabling-finally -after-some-years-lethal diseases. It's fine at first, but then: Oops. That here, that funny itch I always... oh ok, only women can get that. Whooo. But THIS one ! OMG ! I'm gonna die ! Next page. Repeat. One finally gets used to it and stops dying for several times per chapter, but it shows that not only health Web sites are dangerous.

3rd Leading Cause of Death... (4, Interesting)

SirCyn (694031) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102941)

Doctors (their mistakes) are the 3rd leading cause of death in the USA.

http://www.healingdaily.com/Doctors-Are-The-Third- Leading-Cause-of-Death-in-the-US.htm [healingdaily.com]

This article is a little extreme. Almost half are due to unforseeable drug effects. But still, a good reason to doubt your doctor.

Re:3rd Leading Cause of Death... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13103006)

But still, a good reason to doubt your doctor.

How's that?

Medicine is hard. Doctors are human. Mistakes do happen. But they also know a whole lot more than you do. If you don't trust your doctor, to whom are you going to trust your health?

I suppose alarmism and Not Trusting The Man is easier.

Re:3rd Leading Cause of Death... (1)

Monte (48723) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103014)

Doctors (their mistakes) are the 3rd leading cause of death in the USA. ...

But still, a good reason to doubt your doctor.

You'd be happier if the third leading cause of death in the US was falling out of windows, or shark attacks or something?

Of all the things I could die of, I think "Dr. FsckUp" would be at the top of my list. At least I've already got the attention of someone who's trying to make me better, and if I'm that far gone already I'm probably in a hospital to boot, full of other doctors, one of which might discover the farkup. Or at lesat give me some heavy duty pain meds to make my stay a little happier.

Yup, set me up for Death by Doctor. It's gotta beat the hell out of drowning, cancer, desanguination, gangrene, starvation, etc etc etc.

Re:3rd Leading Cause of Death... (4, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103051)

Doing your own research is good. But what these articles fail to point out is sometimes "Medical Mistakes" are due to your doctor treating something very serious with a very affressive treatment. Imagine a disease that kills 8 out of 10 people within two years, but the treatment kills 3 out of 10 while extending the life of the other 10. Articles like this would lump those three into medical mistakes, but neglect to mention that five folks were spared.

This article also fails to mention that the reason some causes of death dropped in the list is BECAUSE of medical care's improvements.

Now, does this mean we don't try to improve medicine further to reduce the mistakes? Of course not. But articles like these seem to suggest that we don't visit our doctor. That is dangerous and irresponsible.

Re:3rd Leading Cause of Death... (1)

cybersaga (451046) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103055)

My bet is that all of the legit cases against doctors are because of doctors that are doctors for the money and not because they wanted to be doctors.

People that are in careers just for the money has got to be the biggest cause of the lack of quality we see in almost everything today.

Not what i was expecting (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13102948)

I was rather expecting the computer user variant of hypochondry: people thinking the strangest (and utter most impossible things) are wrong with their pc

i've heard stories about people claiming they had virusses (yes, plurar even ^^) in their cd-rom drive, monitor, anything you name plugged in, or probably even remotely related to their pc :)

i would love to see some statistics on that, i think it's happening more frequent every day (and i'd love to see the reactions of helpdesk employees when they got such people on the line :D)

I can only speak for myself (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13102951)

But to tell you the truth I'm not impressed with US doctors, or at least the way they go about their business.

I can only speak from my personal experience, but for four years I've been experiencing terrible coughing fits, accompanied by heavy drainage from both nose and lungs and swollen eyelids. I went from doctor to doctor in search of a diagnosis... "Oh, it's the flu, here are some antibiotics" or "It's probably bronchitis, here are antibiotics."
Until finally, I managed to get to an allergy specialist (at my request, mind you) who diagnosed me with seasonal allergies.

So yes, if it takes the professionals 4 years to diagnose me with allergies and give me the correct prescription, then yeah, I'm gonna look to other sources to help me diagnose myself...

The flip side (1, Informative)

null etc. (524767) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102968)

I think it's important to look at the flip side, too. Doctors who are in their 50's learned medicine 30 years ago, and often haven't kept up to date on all the latest medical findings. For example, the advice I receive from my doctor for certain common illnesses is a bit outdated, and somewhat dangerous.

Re:The flip side (1)

ytm (892332) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103065)

On the other hand, doctors who are in their 50s have much more experience than those younger. I think it is a problem of finding not too young (must be experienced) and not too old (must be up to date and not to rely on his own habits) doctor.

Re:The flip side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13103085)

Then choose another doctor.

Not everybody is like Feynmann. And even in that story it ended badly.

do i have this? (2, Funny)

pintomp3 (882811) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102974)

we actually have a jumpy user who calls/emails every time she hears about a new virus, gets an error message, sneezes, etc. we haven't heard much from her since upgrading her to xp. either everything is working or she's dead.

paranoid + non-technical = headache.

Likewise for doctors ... (1, Interesting)

adzoox (615327) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102975)

Likewise for doctors ...

Now that doctors have the internet to publish their "findings" (while still being under the influence of lobby by drug companies) - they too are over perscribing or over diagnosing - especially when it comes to rather common things.

One example is HPV [ashastd.org] - which is a sexually transmitted disease. 90% of the population has symptoms. Having similar symptoms is NOT actually having a disease.

HPV is actually just a predisposition to cervical cancer or prostate cancer and it hasn't been proven that it is actually an STD.

A hypochondriac friend of mine went to get a annual pap smear and doctor check up and told her she had HPV - after doing research - I was able to see how and why doctors over-perscribe this ( hint: money / hint 2: research grants )

I would bet if you go to the doctor and get a thorough check up, YOU will be diagnosed as having HPV - try it out!

Doctors prefer sheep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13102976)

I prefer to be informed and in total control. As far as I'm concerned, I should be able to walk into a drug store and purchase anything I want without a presciption, just like they do in many many parts of the world. Doctors look down on patients who act as if they are in control of their own bodies. How dare they think that way! Doctors have all kinds of non-medical relationships with businesses and get biased towards them, but they look down upon people who want to take control of their own bodies and are willing to suffer the consequences of their own actions. Decades of the nanny state make this seem crazy. Americans in control of their own bodies is a novel idea these days.

Remedy (2, Interesting)

savagedome (742194) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102980)

Meanwhile, some dubious theory from the Internet will be swallowed hook, line and sinker nine times out of 10.

While the statement looks to be true on surface, a friend of mine had a life changing experience after reading a theory.

He played basketball in college and had some knee problems that eventually prohibited him from continuing to play. He was getting physiotherapy done but it was only a temporary relief. The doctors that he went to basically said that he might have to live with that. So, out of all desperation, he turned to Google and started digging up details based on his symptoms. And after a while, he took his research to a few doctors. One of them actually took initiative saying that it was an area that he had not previously explored. So, the doctor did some study and possibly discussed it with experts in the field. My friend had an operation done 3-4 years ago and he is as good as he used to be before the problem.

So, 9 out of 10 might be bogus but still if you have nowhere else to go, that remaining 1 out of 10 might help.

hook, line and sinker (4, Insightful)

krgallagher (743575) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102986)

"Meanwhile, some dubious theory from the Internet will be swallowed hook, line and sinker nine times out of 10."

I agree. I have many relatives who are online but not really technology savvy. Not a month goes by that I do not get CC'ed on some ridiculous email. I always go look it up on Snopes [snopes.com] and do a reply to all with a link the Snopes article discrediting it. The thing that really gets me though, is a couple of times a year I will get one of these from someone who knows better. When I call them on it, I usually get the same response, "Well I figured better safe than sorry." Some how they just do not understand that by forwarding unsubstantiated false information they are perpetuating the problem.

Opposite (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13102987)

I won't go to the doctor partly because they are god damn retarded enough to give someone who has a viral infection an anti-biotic. The side effects to the medication the prescribe is rarely told to you(I was on one for a year that the side effect was kidney failure, yay).

I've been banned from the Internet... (1)

JakiChan (141719) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102996)

...by my doctor, at least.

I went to him thinking I had angina. At 28. The symptoms: chest pain and dizziness. He told me I had pulled a chest muscle and had a wicked inner ear infection. And he told me I wasn't allowed to go look up my symptoms on-line anymore. And I agreed with him...any time I'd look at a medical site I'd get more and more nervous. Now that I don't I feel much better.

I have this terrible pain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13102998)

in all the diodes down my left side.
--Marvin, the Paranoid Android.

Feeling in Control (4, Insightful)

Shannon Love (705240) | more than 8 years ago | (#13102999)

Self-diagnosing makes people feel more in control of their health. People perceive doctors as authority figures who take control away from the patients. People do not perceive sources they find on their own as controlling (even though many of the sources do have their own agendas) so they adopt the source's explanation rather than the doctors.

The desire to feel in control is such a powerful drive that people will trade concrete benefits like money or expert advice for the mere illusion of control.

Reminds me of a school project I once did.. (1)

mdobossy (674488) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103000)

Long long ago, I was assigned a school project- each person had to research a specific type of cancer. I decided to look into pancreatic cancer, and started looking through books, etc.. I went to speak with my doctor about it, and he was very hesitant to tell me anything. The problem with pancreatic cancer is 1) it is almost 100% fatal, 2) the initial symptoms are the types of things you experience regularly. Many people, when learning all of the symptoms, etc, find those in themselves, and automatically think the worst. Working a great deal with probablity now, I understand how this happens- people tend to assume that the probability of a high consequence, low occurance risk is much higher than it really is (look at post 9/11 United States- people tend to over estimate the risk). So, when the info is out there, there will be those that over estimate the risk, see symptoms, and diagnose themselves with all kinds of crazy illnesses.

That.... (2, Insightful)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103001)

....and pharmaseutical companies are telling us every commercial break that things like heartburn, insomnia, and arthritis are threats to our very lives.

I know what this is like... (1)

Gadgetfreak (97865) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103009)

Having an aunt who died of Multiple Sclerosis constantly triggers a bit of anxiety in me every time I have a muscle spasm. I figured out long ago that I can't browse WebMD or read descriptions of MS anymore, because it gets me overly concerned and anxious.

But reading web sites and articles about hypochondria, especially with the advent of tons of medical information at your fingertips, has helped me.

The best quote I saw online about it was from a general practitioner, who had experience with patients coming in concerned with a self-diagnosis. He said "People are always worried that their symptoms resemble a bad disease or disorder. But what many people forget is that everyone has symptoms. It's just a part of life."

The problem is that dislexic doctors... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13103013)

The problem is that dyslexic doctors think they are dog.

People are Stupid? (1)

DanielMarkham (765899) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103020)

I'm not sure what the point is. Sure, people read stuff and feel like they have it. The same thing has been happening to doctors for decades. Regular people too -- only in small batches. Now that there is more stuff for people to read, there is more stuff to believe. Assuming that doctors aren't some highly evolved lifeform from the planet Xerox, I think people will get along just fine, just like the docs.
After all, isn't this really about education? I mean, do you really fight something like smoking by making it illegal, moaning about how stupid people are to buy into the "cool factor", or by education? Seems to me that as long as you have an "Urban Legends" site, you teach somebody to go there and boom! No more email hoaxes. Same for medicine, right? We just need to have authoritative sources and tell people about them. Interestingly enough, this is also a problem of the MSM, which tends to exaggerate things in order to get ratings. People buy into the "panick of the week" mentality.

Shuttlecraft For Sale, Buy Today! [whattofix.com]

Doctors (4, Insightful)

coflow (519578) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103028)

I can't really empathize with doctors on this one. The last 4 or 5 times I've seen a doctor over probably the past 10 years, they have completely kept me in the dark with what's been wrong. I come in with congestion, or a cough, or a sore throat, and the result is always the same, they give me a new antibiotic, an inhaler, and some pseudophedrine.

I end up going to web md or some other website to do research and deduce what my symptoms point to. It seems like doctors no longer take the time to assess symptoms and determine what is actually wrong, they just dispense a few prescriptions, sign some paperwork, and send the patient on their way. It's not wonder that people want to get more info than what the MD profession is offering.

Re:Doctors (0, Flamebait)

OneSmartFellow (716217) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103088)

I come in with congestion, or a cough, or a sore throat

Therein lies your problem. Perhaps if you wouldn't bother the doctor with such trivial symptoms, he would trreat you like an idiot.

Evidence (1)

golden_spray (834865) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103029)

I think this occurs because people are suckers for anecdotal evidence. They are more likely to believe a story of some patent who was cured by drinking their own urine (or something like that) then a scientific study. Plus studies are hard to understand where as anecdotes are easy to understand. There also seems to be alot of conspiricy theories surrounding Drug companies and the "treatment" industry vs a "cure" industry.

Doctors arent always right you know... (4, Interesting)

TooncesTheCat (900528) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103032)

I have been suffering with some pretty fucking bad digestion problems all my life. I have the hershey squirts alot and real bad cramps in my stomach. I went to the gastrointestinal doctor here in my home town for a endoscopy and colonoscopy. He diagnosed me with IBS syndrome and sent me on my marry way saying it was just a nervous stomach. After suffering for 4 more years of that crap I decided to try and figure out what the hell was wrong with me. I googled my symptoms and found my symptoms closely related to Celiacs Disease...Almost identical in everyway to the people with Celiacs of what they described. I went to another doctor the week after reading the Celiacs website and was diagnosed after another biopsy as having Celiacs. Only after using the web to help me find out my symptoms was I actually diagnosed properly. Google saved my bowels from a lifelong of shitting and pain :/

It seems reasonable. (1)

KamaDragon (819925) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103033)

I didn't RTFA, but...

I'm a poor college student with no health insurance and not a lot of financial help. If I can find a solution to a problem that cuts the doctor out, it can be a wallet-saver.

The last two medical problems I have had, I easily identified with a little bit of web-searching. Neither of these problems had simple solutions (one required surgery, the other a prescription), so I didn't hit the jackpot or anything. But I saved both the doctor and myself time by showing up at the office and saying "I think this is my problem, I need you to verify it and recommend a surgeon/write a prescription."

With the vast amount of information at our disposal, it is easy to forget that *anyone* can put something on the internet. I am quite guilty of that myself. If something looks professional, it is easy to assume that it is true. I won't trust information from a website that looks poorly thrown together or is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. But if the person displays competence and confidence, I tend to be pretty trusting. And if I can trust these sources and save myself a trip (READ: $$) to a doctor or a prescription, I might as well.

I certainly don't think people should be foolish enough to trust any crazy remedy they come across on The Internets, though. People just need to display a little common sense.

this is it (1)

same_old_story (833424) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103043)

I just hope that with all these evidence /. will create a "your health" section.
With the carefull review of our dear editors and the amazing quality of stories submited I might simply stop seeing a doctor altogether.

And for the hypochondriacs out there, all the dupes will make sure we don't miss one single disease we might have.

Interesting, but not news (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103056)

This is just another varient on Medical Student Syndrome [google.com].

In psychology it's so bad, due to the nature of people and the subject, that every Abnormal Psychology book I've seen, and the class I took, starts with a warning abouth the syndrome [prenhall.com]; most psychological disorders are defined in rather normal terms, and at any moment, most of us have at least one symptom that shows up in the DSM. It's the confluence of multiple symptoms (usually) that persist and cause problems for the person that defines a true problem, but if you're not paying attention to those caveats (or they don't reassure you)...

Medical Student Syndrome isn't going to kill you, but it can cause some stress at a time in your life when you really don't need it. (No joke.)

Web Experts (1)

RamboIII (899894) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103060)

Is it that people are Hypochondriacs, or has it more to do with people taking in information from a few different sources, and coming up with their own conclusion?

I know a lot of people that become "instant experts" on a wide variety of subjects, all because they googled something, went to a few different sites that gave a little detail into something, and they finish out the thought with their own ideas.

A good example is a good freind of mine, who thinks he's the next Einstein, because he reads some science-related site, that explains some of the laws of physics on an easy-to-understand level.

Besides, if someone is a Hypochondriac, then something's wrong with them.---Sorry I just had to ;)

Anxiety (5, Funny)

quibbs0 (803278) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103073)

I'm quite a hypochondriac myself. My doctor told me a few years ago that I had General Anxiety Disorder. When I told my girlfriend at the time she asked me "How do you feel about having G.A.D.?"

I responded, "Quite frankly it makes me a little nervous."

This sums it up pretty well. (1)

AnObfuscator (812343) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103074)

Wall Street Journal quotes a doctor: 'My impression is that people believe more of what they read than what I tell them. It seems that traditional Western medicine based on scientific evidence is less and less trusted by the general public. Meanwhile, some dubious theory from the Internet will be swallowed hook, line and sinker nine times out of 10.' "

Why is this?

Why do people fall for 419 Scams? Why do people *let* spyware onto their machines? Why do people let the government walk over their rights in the name of freedom? Why do people believe the universe is only 6,000 years old? Why do people refuse to learn the basic workings of the technology they use every day of their lives?

It's not because they're stupid. Well, ok, many of them are. but many are not. Why do they do/think these stupid things?

Because they are taught to do this.

They are taught that science is "hard" and "mysterious"; that it's ok to "not get that hard sceince stuff". They are taught to accept what they're told, without being taught how to distinguish reliable sources of information from the scams.

They are taught that critical reasoning is unnecessary, but they are now given virtually free access to vast amounts of unregulated information that requires critical reasoning to correctly process.

Of course, the government will decide to regulate the information, in the "interest" of the "comman person" who doesn't have enough critical reasoning to realize this is a terrible idea.

C'est la vie.

Sometimes it's a good idea (1)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103101)

Some treatment standards lag behind reality. Diabetics, for example, are coming to realize the benefits of tight blood glucose control in avoiding the long-term complications of the disease. Doctors, on average, are *way* behind the curve on this issue. If you go online and read up on the disease (one of the best mailing lists maintains a semi-official motto of "My body, my science project") enough, you may conclude you want to start shooting insulin *now* instead of a few years from now when you absolutely must. You may decide that the potential benefits (keeping your eyesight and your feet, for example) outweigh the (literal) pain of starting injecting yourself a few years earlier than your physician would direct.

But what happens when you go to an average general practitioner and say you want to start giving yourself (in his view) a bunch of premature and unnecessary injections? He'll typically think you're a crazy hypochondriac and treat you to a dose of head-patting condescension. At that point, if you're smart, you find an endocrinologist whose education didn't stop a decade ago, get the insulin, and start using it. Did you *have* to? Probably not. Are you *sure* this staved off complications? Again, probably not. But was it a reasonable judgement call to make and was it, ultimately, your responsibility to take charge of your own treatment regimen? Damn right it was.

Want another example? It's been long established that some of the vaccinations routinely administered to children in the U.S. are for conditions for which there is, practically speaking, *no* risk. Those children are more at risk from that subset of vaccinations than they are from the diseases. So what happens when parents read up on vaccinations and make an informed decision to subject their child to less than the full panoply of typically-administered injections? Their pediatricians treat them like idiots or worse, sometimes firing their own patients for not towing the line and doing, without question, whatever the doctor orders.

Too many doctors treat educated patients as if they were hypochondriacs. That's unwarranted and sad. They've brought the problem on themselves with their attitudes. The 'net didn't create the problem. Doctors did.

Depo Provera (1)

mindaktiviti (630001) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103106)

Depo Provera is one of those drugs that doctors tend to suggest that does more harm than good. It's a birth control shot but it has some very nasty side effects (which range from person to person of course). However, regardless if a doctor would recommend it, I would not simply because I knew someone who used it and that person ended up gaining 15lbs (from 110 to 135), and ended up being on her period 24/7 (very light) for MONTHS. Doctors should research their stuff as well, and not just trust a pharmaceutical company that shoves money down their throats.

I have the opposite problem (1)

CrazyTalk (662055) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103108)

I usually don't go to see a doctor until things are getting dire - my typical thought is "Oh, I'll feel better tomorrow or next week". Part of that is due to the state of Health Care in the US - waiting weeks or months to get a doctors apointment (yes, it happens here too not just in countries with socialized medicine - the difference being if I "Fake" being sicker on the phone I MIGHT get an earlier appointment), high copays and deductibles, high cost of Rx, etc. Sometimes seeing the doctor seems more trouble than it's worth! Of course for those times when you really need mecical treatment, you have to bite the bullet and go.

Many Diseases Have Common Symptoms (1)

SlothB77 (873673) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103110)

After watching House (Tues, 9pm, Fox) a few times, I have been known to go to WebMD to look up diseases. The issue here is that many serious or fatal diseases have very common symptoms, and a less than discerning reader will think a pimple is cancer or a bug bite means they have three months to live.

A scare story on the news, a recommendation by so-called 'experts' to give self-exams for lumps or an ad campaign by big pharma can also contribute to public overreaction. I don't think doctors mind a surge in business, albeit being wasteful, as much as the public's lack of confidence in their diagnosis. I guess, the point is "just because you read it on the Internet, it doesn't make you an M.D."

Thank you, Mr. Hume (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 8 years ago | (#13103114)

For demolishing the concept of causality. Thank you, Mr. Kant, for demolishing the concept of reason.

As you irrational people sow, so shall you reap.

When you look around and see that your socialized healthcare has destroyed medicine, that your empty philosophy has destroyed philosophy, that your bankrupt economic system has destroyed your means of survival, when your ethics have destroyed the last of the good and the just, what will you do then?

Web is faster, cheaper, and more acurate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13103116)

What? You mean I would prefer looking at stuff for 15 minutes, eating something natural, and get the placebo effect instead of waiting 4 hours for a "diagnostic", paying 50$ for "medecin" and getting squat for it?

I don't get why doctor have to go to the university for 7 years. I think that by the time they get out, they forgot the basics.

Everytime I go to the doctor I end up with a wasted afternoon, less money, and ussually more symptoms from the medecine. (Dizziness, dry mouth and stuff)

God forbid I would try to take care of myself!
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