The digital age in which we live is wonderful for a great many reasons. We can do more, there are many more opportunities open to us, and we can continue to learn for as long as we want to, about anything at all. However, there are also issues. Apart from the known potential for mental health problems to come about through social media and the potential risk of cybercriminals stealing not only your money but your identity too, there is also the problem of assuming the internet is right all the time.
The fact is that websites are put together by human beings, and human beings can sometimes be wrong. Whereas this might not be an issue if you’re looking for how to cook a certain vegetable or how old your favourite movie star is, it can be a huge issue when you are looking for a diagnosis online, which is something that many people do. When it comes to health information, there are some sites that are run by qualified practitioners, and others that are run by everyday people. Some will be more accurate than others. On top of this, even if you do find a genuine website with good information, it’s still general information; it doesn’t relate to you personally. This means there is a good deal of potential for error.
This is why it’s so important to trust your doctor. They are the only ones who will be able to offer you accurate, useful medical information. Read on to find out more.
Your Doctor Will Understand Your Symptoms
When you’re feeling unwell, or you think you might have an issue that a doctor should investigate, many people will turn to the internet first. It’s the go-to place for any and all information, and it’s even something of a habit. Yet, although this is perhaps the first thing you’ll do, it’s still important to make an appointment to see your doctor, no matter what information you might find online relating to your symptoms.
This is because the doctor is the best person to understand your symptoms. They will understand them even better than you can, despite the fact that you’re the one experiencing them. A layman trying to describe their symptoms and type those symptoms into a search engine could bring up a number of different ideas, and since you might be using the wrong terms or explaining something inaccurately, it’s impossible to know whether the ‘diagnosis’ is the right one.
When you go to see a doctor, they will be able to ask the right questions to get to the heart of the matter, and your answers will help them to make a much more accurate diagnosis. This is why it’s so important to trust your doctor and to answer their questions as truthfully as you can. The answers, combined with your medical history (which the internet probably won’t ask you about) will give a much better all-around view of your health and help to narrow down the potential conditions ailing you.
Many Years of Training
In some cases medical websites are run by professionals. However, there is no way to vet for this, and for every genuine online doctor there are potentially dozens more that are entirely unqualified.
When you visit your doctor, you can trust that they will know exactly what they are doing. Medical training takes many years, and there are lots of different stages. Even once the doctor is technically qualified, they still need to go through a longer period of training in hospitals and clinics. All in all, it can take a decade or more to be allowed to practice, and when it comes to GPs who aren’t specialists and therefore need to know a lot about all kinds of medical situations, the training is even longer.
It’s not just doctors who train for a long time, either. Nurses will have lots of training and they can advance their careers through TWU’s comprehensive online nursing program, for example, to ensure they are entirely up to date with nursing practices. Physiotherapists, chiropractors, therapists, and anyone else you might need medical assistance from will all have gone through rigorous training.
Because of this, you can trust that when they examine you, they will know what the problem is, and they will be able to come up with a treatment plan that works. This might be a prescription for antibiotics, perhaps a referral to a specialist, or they might suggest you go straight to the hospital for urgent medical care. Whatever it is, you can be sure that it’s what their training has led them to.
Your Medical History
A symptom that one person is experiencing might be the same symptom that someone else is experiencing, but because of their medical history, the diagnosis might be different. This is why it can be problematic to input symptoms into an online diagnostic tool – everyone will get the same results, but those won’t be the right results for some people because of their specific medical history. In fact, even those who have the same or very similar medical history might have two completely different illnesses based on the same symptoms because symptoms can mean many different conditions.
A trusted doctor will be able to determine in much more depth what the problem is because they have your medical history to hand. They will have your treatment history, your family medical history (which can be crucial in some cases since some conditions are hereditary), and they will have you there to ask questions of. Symptoms can be checked online, but without the necessary background information, those symptoms aren’t going to offer much in the way of a useful answer, and they certainly won’t give a definitive diagnosis, so accurate treatment will be impossible.
It is entirely possible to communicate successfully online, and many people do it every day. They hold meetings, they chat with friends, they send emails, they comment on social media. In fact, some would argue that the internet has made us more open to communication than ever before.
Yet, online medical sites are perhaps not the best places to communicate with anyone. Most of the time, they simply invite you to input data and read the results, often with a caveat suggesting that if you’re worried you should make an appointment to see a doctor. As we’ve already noted, when you are in a face-to-face appointment (or an online one with your own doctor, since video calling is starting to be used more often for medical situations), you will be asked many questions about your symptoms and history.
However, it’s just as important for a patient to be able to ask their doctor plenty of questions too. Although you do need to trust that the healthcare professional you are seeking advice from does know their profession and will be given you the right information, that doesn’t mean you’ll automatically understand exactly what the issue is or what the treatment they recommend will do for you. This is why you need to ask questions, and perhaps even prepare some questions before you attend your appointment. Although appointments with GPs are short, there should still be time to ask the most important questions on your list. This means you won’t have to resort to searching online for answers.
A Comfortable Appointment
Searching for healthcare information online can be lonely, it can be worrying – even terrifying – and it can be an uncomfortable experience because you don’t really feel sure about the results you’re getting. For most people, even when they look online, they’ll want to have their issue followed up by a doctor because they know deep down that the internet alone is not to be trusted when it comes to health matters.
Seeing a real doctor who knows you (or at least knows your medical situation, past and present) will make finding out about any conditions or health problems you have much more comfortable. You can build a good relationship with your doctor and feel able to confide in them about things that you might otherwise shy away from because they’re embarrassing.
When you have a good relationship with your doctor, it’s much easier to make the appointment you need in the first place, and since the difference between an early or late diagnosis can be a big one, the earlier you see your doctor the better. It all comes down to trust; trust really can make you well.
The internet is amazing, and many people would never want to be without it. It can be used to make friends, to learn, even to run a business. However, when it comes to medical information, the best person to turn to is a trusted doctor. With all their years of training and experience and their knowledge of your personal health history, there is no one better placed to diagnose and treat you. This is why it’s crucial to trust your doctor and make an appointment when one is necessary.