Yan and Sengupta aren’t the only ones who find self-diagnosis via the Web risky. Dr. Peter Galier, an internal medicine specialist at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center believes it’s a part of human nature for people to overestimate the health issues for themselves and family members.
Galier explained that many people who rely on the Web rather than a doctor about their symptoms don’t realize the risk of erroneous information.
"When people are able to access a lot of information that isn't filtered, and they don't have expertise in the field, they don't know how to prioritize the information," Galier said.
Galier provided an example of a healthy young man who may experience chest pain after drinking a cold soda. He believes that the man could easily turn to the Internet and identify his symptom as a sign of a heart attack. However, he does not recognize the essentials of missing information such as his age and medical history.
"Chest pain in a 55-year-old guy is looked at much differently than in a 25-year-old guy," he said.
Study researchers recommended that people should primarily see a doctor for their symptoms.
''The advantage of seeing a real doctor isn't just because he or she is an expert," he said. "It's also that they aren't you."
They believe that an objective diagnosis from a doctor eliminates the emotional stress that often comes with self-diagnosis. Yan suggested disclosing the situation to colleagues to ease the panic and stress surrounding their symptoms.