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Advice for Healthy Living

September 29th, 2023

The dangers of Dr. Google

By Dr. Horis Stedman, Jr.
WellMed at Marble Falls
Marble Falls, TX


In our digital era, health information is at our fingertips with a simple online search providing a range of answers. However, solely depending on the internet for self-diagnosis can lead to problems. Despite the abundance of medical information online, it is essential to use caution and take into account the accuracy of the information.

Online symptom checkers may seem beneficial, but they are no substitute for real doctors. These tools use computer algorithms to match your symptoms with potential conditions, but cannot replace the expertise of a medical professional. Relying solely on these tools could lead to misunderstandings about health or needless anxiety.

Not all health information online is accurate. Trustworthy sources such as government and educational websites provide reliable information, while social media and less credible sites can contain inaccurate or outdated information. This has given rise to “cyberchondria,” where individuals become overly anxious due to incorrect online health information.

Searching online for medical information can lead to confirmation bias, where people focus on information that confirms their existing beliefs. To ensure accuracy, it is important to be aware of this bias when consulting a doctor.

As a medical professional, my goal is to help patients make informed decisions and avoid the risks of self-diagnosis.

Here are some tips I share:

  • Trust websites from respected institutions like hospitals and government health organizations for accurate information.
  • Read info from trustworthy sources that explain health topics well, but do not replace advice from experts.
  • If you are uncertain or anxious, consult your doctor for accurate advice.

Certain symptoms require urgent medical attention, including:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sudden changes in vision or hearing
  • Muscle weakness or paralysis
  • Severe pain
  • Symptoms following an accident

Symptoms that are not severe but progress quickly also demand prompt care, such as persistent pain or unusual swelling.

Prioritizing validated information, consulting health care professionals and being aware of cognitive biases ensure a safer approach to understanding health.

Dr. Horis T. Stedman, Jr. is board certified by the American Board of Urgent Care Medicine and a general practice physician and urgent care specialist, with a medical degree from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan. He is committed to providing comprehensive care to his patients, focusing on preventive care and providing personalized, detailed appointments. Along with his staff, Dr. Stedman is dedicated to helping his patients make better choices for a healthier lifestyle through screenings, vaccinations and regular visits with their health team. Dr. Stedman is currently accepting new patients at his practice, WellMed at Marble Falls in Marble Falls, Texas.