According to one British publication, Googling our symptoms in lieu of seeing the doctor is on the rise. And I think I know why.
One of the subtle byproducts of knowing everything is that we seek out the advice of Doctor Google over those who actually studied medicine for realises. The twisty funhouse reflection of the UK, The Mirror delved into the issue, discovering that searches of “how to know chest pains are serious” (or similar) rose by 8,781% between 2015 and 2018.
According to that publication, “…research by Pharmacy2U, the UK’s largest online pharmacy, found that 39% of respondents had lived with a condition for far longer than needed to avoid the embarrassment of talking about their condition. And an astonishing 12% of people are currently suffering from something they are reluctant to seek medical help for.”
GP and medical columnist Dr Rosemary Leonard MBE took it further, noting that: “All too often I see patients who have tried to ignore their symptoms only to find when they have eventually come to see me that they have a serious disease that is far more difficult to treat than it would have been had it been diagnosed sooner. Occasionally I have patients who are found to have advanced cancer that can no longer be cured.”
Which is quite vexing, but let me just Google that first.
The Macmillan Cancer Support believes that one in five people with cancer – around 500,000 in the UK – “find it difficult to seek help with side effects of their treatment, such as bowel and bladder problems, anxiety, or sex and relationship issues because of embarrassment or shame.”
Embarrassment or shame is certainly the salient point here. I consider the Macmillan mob to be telling the truth, and the data indicating something akin to gospel.
You see, those calm professionals who stand before the Hippocratic oath every morning are people, and people are the absolute pits. It’s not as simple as rocking up to the GP, explaining what’s wrong, and have them dole out medicine and advice. Often, and ask any woman you know about this, it’s an extremely small number of professionals who give treatment sans judgement.
Byways of an example, I found myself at the GP to check up on my sexual health. Now, the contraction of sexual disease, and indeed, the pursual of sexual health is a very adult thing. Upon finding myself at the doctor, I found myself slut-shamed, mostly for the choices that your usual unattached adult would make.
This, mind you, was to check if anything was indeed wrong. As it turns out, it wasn’t, but I was still dragged across the coals for making healthy choices. Choices that had nothing to do with them. Did I have symptoms? Perhaps. I Googled beforehand because I feared such treatment.
So, yes, we Google over doctors, because the internet doesn’t judge. It’s a problem that will remain…until we replace them with robots. Maybe not.