Google is our go-to for just about every question we have. Need a hack for assembling that Ikea furniture? Google it! Want to try out a new recipe? Google it! And then there's the questions you simply prefer to ask in secrecy as opposed to an in-person expert. And while you can find plenty of valuable information by using this search engine, there are simply some things you just shouldn't search for. Those strange symptoms you're having that are affecting your health in one way or another are one of them.
“Yes, you might have a rash, and, yes, you might have seen something somewhere about cancer,” explains functional medicine doctor Robin Berzin, M.D., founder of Parsley Health. “In your case, however, it’s probably just eczema.”
Berlin wants people to understand that it's not a matter of giving up on Google. Instead, she wants to give you her tips on how to use it for good, rather than bad, when it comes to your health.
Never self-diagnose. This can only lead to causing you major anxiety over something you may not have, as well as hinder you from getting the help you actually need.
Restrain yourself from acting on Dr. Google’s advice. “It’s one thing to try a vegan
diet or a Paleo
diet because you’ve read good things about them online,” Dr. Berzin says. “But it’s a very different thing to go out, read information about a health condition, and then try to apply it to yourself.”
Always consider the source. “A lot of times, people read a personal story and they say, ‘Hey, that sounds like me. That’s my problem too!’ and they get very worked up, and may even take a course of action that isn’t actually relevant to them,” Dr. Berzin says. “On the flip side, some of the big academic centers have really reliable information, but they’re taking the broadest, 1,000-foot view of a particular condition.”
Look for credentials. “Pretty pictures of food do not equal expertise,” Dr. Berzin warns. Someone may have a great blog out there that is aesthetically pleasing and well-written, but it doesn't make them an expert by any means.
Take your symptoms to a doctor. “I’m in a different camp than a lot of physicians, because I think it’s awesome that there’s lots of information out there,” Dr. Berzin says. “It’s an interplay, and you have to be an active participant in your own health.”
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