It happens everyday. Since the advent of widespread use of online sites like WebMD and Google the past 5 years or so, patients are more anxious than ever.
The simple curiosity of looking up a symptom can lead to abject fear and open avenues of death that had never even been imagined or considered.
Typing the symptoms like stomach ache or rash gives you everything from passing virus to death in graphic written and visual detail with a dramatic anecdotal “testimony” from a personal blog or support group.
I can’t tell you how many times I have had to inform someone that there is no indication that they are dying or have a mortal disease. I have gently asked the question “did you already kill yourself off in your head?” many times and usually get an affirmative response full of relief and tears of joy.
Many confess they spend several days in anxiety going through the countless scenarios during the time/days waiting for their appointment. They had used encyclopedic tools to try to self diagnose.
This approach is flawed in that it has nothing to do with how smart you are or how thoroughly you search the net. How would you expect someone who had never seen a the a 1000-piece puzzle image before it was broken apart to accurately put it together in the right context and relationships. It would be nearly impossible.
I reassure my patients when they sheepishly admit their fruitless efforts online that even doctors who go through years of training to study the images of human health and disease can struggle or misdiagnose. So how would we expect someone else or yourself without that time in training to do so?
So in the future, avoid TMI with TLC, skip the anxiety and angst and simply do the wisest thing-seek professional medical consultation.