Should You Ever Self-Diagnose

September 19, 2018

With so much information on the internet, should you first ask Google or head to the clinic when you’re ill?

We asked a few doctors for their thoughts.
Consultant ENT Surgeon at Columbia Asia Hospital – Petaling Jaya

“I actually welcome Google as among other things, it gives the general public some idea on the problem that is afflicting them – which will tell them where or whom to seek help from. For example, with dizziness or vertigo, an uninformed person may just go to a general practitioner (or even just dismiss it). But those who have done some research may know that the best person to go to is an ear, nose and throat surgeon. Because of this, some doctors may find that patients these days are asking more questions, which I personally think is a good thing. I prefer my patients informed, especially if they are to go for surgery, as they need to understand the risks involved and what to expect in terms of outcome. Self-diagnosis is not necessarily dangerous as long as you seek professional help. However, self-treatment is.”
Consultant Obstetrics & Gynecologist at Columbia Asia Hospital – Iskandar Puteri

“I use Google to look up any new information or journal papers to keep myself updated. With the improvement of AI, a simple possible diagnosis can be made in the future to give patients a clue on what is going on. But, unreliable and fake info can lead to wrong treatment or delayed medical care.”
Consultant General Surgeon at Columbia Asia Hospital – Iskandar Puteri

“A Google search is very much dependent on keywords, and it returns with a mix of true and false information from various sources. There is no filter to differentiate actual facts from pseudo-experts on health. Do visit your doctor who can examine you physically and order required tests before coming to a diagnosis. You may well just discover that you have gastritis, rather than ZollingerEllison syndrome. Patients should not self-diagnose, but instead can use Google to learn more about a diagnosis. However, there are patients who keep second-guessing the doctor and it can render treatments ineffective.”
Consultant Pediatrician at Columbia Asia Hospital – Bintulu

“Google does help to a certain extent, provided the patient browses through a reliable website. Also, patients today can communicate more freely with their doctors regarding the concerns and worries which they learnt through the net.”

This article first appeared in Her World, Issue September 2018