Is #SearchingYourSymptoms Online Always A Good Thing?

teen in marvel jumper

The internet can give us useful medical knowledge, which we can find empowering especially when it comes to booking our holidays or travelling to new destinations.  Before I visit a new country, I like to search for travel vaccinations from Lloyds Pharmacy Online Doctor to see if I require a Typhoid vaccine or Diphtheria, Polio & Tetanus Booster before my visit.  It can be a really convenient way of arranging your travel vaccinations and you can feel confident you know exactly what you need before you go.

We have all searched for our symptoms online or used the internet to investigate a medical query at some point.  I know as a mother I’ve used google a lot to help me find some advice about why my toddler’s cold is lasting for weeks or when is a rash serious on a baby.  It turns out that a staggering 81% of us have used the internet to search for an answer to a medical problem.  This doesn’t surprise meat all as we can access the internet at any time of day or night, and sometimes getting to the doctor isn’t always convenient.

Sometimes, searching for your symptoms online doesn’t go quite so well, and this is exactly what happened to us on Christmas Eve.  My husband and son went to the cinema to watch Star Wars Rogue One.  I was secretly pleased as this meant I could have a quiet evening watching Christmas TV, wrapping presents and enjoying an uninterrupted class of prosecco.  Or that’s what I thought anyway.

When my husband and son returned, teen told me he had had a rather nasty nosebleed.  He had had a chest infection over the holidays and to be honest I wasn’t overly worried.  He went upstairs, and unbeknown to me he was searching bad nosebleeds on google.  He came back downstairs and said the advice was to seek medical assistance if the nosebleed had lasted longer than 20 minutes.  Now that he had read this advice, he was concerned about the nosebleed.  Before we rushed off to A & E at 10pm on Christmas Eve I thought it would be a good idea to ring the medical helpline, in the hope we could avoid a trip to hospital at this rather inconvenient time.

We spoke to the medical service, and their advice was to go to the emergency services within the hour.  Neither the helpline or the information my son had found online took into consideration that he had been ill and blowing his nose a bit too hard.

I had had a drink, so could not drive and someone needed to be at home with the girls who were in bed waiting for Santa.  My husband dropped my son off at the hospital, and came home.  The doctor saw him, and did feel it was a little over the top that he had been sent to A & E. He advised the nosebleed had been caused by blowing his nose too hard and a blood vessel had raptured.

What followed was a series of miscommunications between my son and my husband which resulted in my son getting in a taxi on Christmas Eve just as my husband arrived to collect him from the hospital.  My husband wasn’t so happy he had had to go out at 3am to collect him and that he was now £30 lighter due to the excessive taxi fares on Christmas Eve.  I guess the story could have been a lot worse, and I think my son learnt a valuable lesson about why google doesn’t always have the answer.

Zena Goldman

Zena Goldman is a UK based travel, family & lifestyle blogger who left her 9-5 job behind in the not-for-profit sector to follow her creative dreams and enjoy a more flexible family life. She began writing Zena’s Suitcase in 2011 and shares the holidays and adventures she goes on with (and without) her 2 young daughters. She wishes her son would join them more often but he’s carving out his own dreams now and enjoying university life. Since beginning Zena’s Suitcase she has worked with a number of brands and also has a regular monthly feature in the ASDA Good Living Magazine feature, ‘Ask The Expert’ where she shares helpful parenting tips. In 2018 she was also a finalist in the prestigious BIBs Awards for Social Media.

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6 Discussion to this post

  1. Theresa Alison says:

    In a way its just trying to get a piece of mind, for me it was still is. I know doctors are the experts but I wouldn’t want them saying this , saying that and I want a good idea of what it could be myself so I could say to the doctor is this the reason my child is ill so and so .

  2. Judy Thomas says:

    Searching your symptoms on line can be a scary thing to do. I prefer to write them down so I don’t forget them and go to the doctor to get a proper diagnosis.

  3. Veronica Lee says:

    Personally, I think most of these sites are inconsistent and inaccurate. Patients shouldn’t rely upon them for correct diagnoses
    Veronica Lee recently posted…The Last Kite MakerMy Profile

  4. Samantha O'D says:

    It may make you think that things are worse, or not as bad as they may be. I Google stuff all the time and I know I shouldn’t

  5. Sarah Flint says:

    I think online information is useful when reliably sourced.

  6. Margaret Gallagher says:

    Can be useful especially if you want a broad overview -unfortunately too many people take it as GOSPEL !

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