Dr. Google Thinks You're Way Sicker Than You Actually Are

Illustration for article titled Dr. Google Thinks You're Way Sicker Than You Actually Are

Here's a new survey from the Department of Obvious Things: when ladies get sick, they're much more likely to consult Dr. Google than their actual doctors. And when they do that, Dr. Google helpfully provides the wrong diagnosis. If these women going to the internet are anything like me, Dr. Google is probably telling them that they either have cancer or are pregnant, or are pregnant with cancer, because Dr. Google is kind of a hypochondriac.

The problem with internet misdiagnoses isn't a minor one — according to a new study conducted by BalanceActiv, one in four women in the UK have used the internet to decide that they've got an illness they don't have. And women who use the internet to jump to conclusions about their health often think they've discovered serious problems; the study found that women often use the internet to wrongly discover that they have such horrifying diseases as cancer, depression, diabetes, and thyroid problems. And, oddly, thrush, which I didn't realized existed in the years after 1912. In addition to subjecting themselves to unnecessary anxiety, sometimes, in "discovering" that they're sick with every awful disease, women miss symptoms of more minor, treatable diseases.

It's no wonder ladies are driven to the internet for advice about their health concerns; we're taught that our vaginas and problems related to our vaginas are embarrassing and gross. Sometimes it feels like simply having ladyparts is like having a rare antique car you don't know how to drive and can't afford— repairs are costly, replacement parts are absurdly expensive and need to be imported from somewhere, something is always wrong, and the guys who work at the only place in town that can fix your car are always judging you. Unlike a flesh and blood physician, WebMD's symptom checker can't raise its eyebrows at you when you tell it you've been peeing cottage cheese and then charge you $500. And if Google tells you that you need to lose weight, you can just tell it to fuck off without being escorted off the premises by security guards and later receiving a bill in the mail. You don't need to take time off from work to see The Internet about your butthole problem. Even though he's often wrong, Dr. Internet is basically free and essentially immediate, and you can't beat free and immediate when faced with the horror of weird looking poop or strange bumps in the nether regions.


But with women consulting the internet for health advice at twice the rate of men, it's probably time to take less stock in what the internet thinks is wrong, bite the bullet, and see a real doctor. Even though it's easy and cheap to Google your symptoms, it's not worth it to spend the day worried you have a terminal case of clitoral cancer.

Dr. Google misdiagnoses 1 out of 4 women [ZDnet]

Share This Story

Get our newsletter



Isn't thrush relatively common in immunocompromised individuals, e.g. those with clinically latent HIV infection or AIDS? The lesson from internet-induced hypochondria is that if you google your symptoms, remember to think horses, not zebras.

In other news, I am worried that reading this article has given me cancer.