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SEARCH Cyber health paranoia
Article By: Bryony Whitehead
Wed, 03 Feb 2010 09:31
Picture this: you've discovered a blemish on your
hand. It's itchy, but not alarmingly so, though the
look of it is. You decide to do a bit of internet
WEATHER research to find out whether you should be
worried. Enter 'red flaky skin' into Google's magic
box and voila! The first few links are for skin
Ctn | Dbn | Jhb | Other cancer.
16° 24° › More Ok, now you're worried. You begin to read — first
link, second link. You've got leads now — and not
only is your one symptom pointing to a "fatal and
INDICATORS rare cancer form" but you've noticed a lack of sxc.hu
appetite recently — another symptom. Oh no!
$ = R 7.47 Dizzy — another sign? Wait, didn't you have to
take a breather on the bench at the mall on
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Saturday from a brief dizzy spell? And you thought
€ = R 10.42 it was a sugar low.
Oil = $ 75.74 Today, 03 February 2010
Gold = $ 1116.1 If there's a time to panic, it certainly seems like
now is good. But stop. It's not worth getting your › FF+ threatens mass action
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knickers in a knot over a few internet links. You're
17:02 03 Feb 10 a rational person, so why do you believe the few › Zuma, Khoza are 'married'
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way? That goes for almost eighty percent of
Property Search internet users worldwide. It's even got a name:
cyberchondria. You bet. Yesterday, 02 February 2010
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by a small amount of people worldwide, › Zuma must behave - Zille
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rational among us. Let's face it, we're all guilty of › 28 name changes approved
Online Dating showing a little paranoia about a symptom or two.
Save on your Just one symptom
Houses for sale Similar to hypochondriacs, cyberchondriacs will
fixate on a particular symptom, believing it to be
potentially fatal. While searching for explanation of
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a symptom online, cyberchondriacs tend to latch
Local sleepovers onto the worst diagnoses they come across,
obsessing over the symptoms and working
Work money smarter themselves up into a froth of anxiety. But it Ask a Doctor
doesn't make sense to make your own diagnosis Online Now
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Especially if you haven't checked your sources. 9 Doctors Are
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Jumping to conclusions Question, Get an
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The well known fallacy is called the "Base Rate Answer ASAP.
Neglect" fallacy and explains why there are so Health.JustAnswer.com
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many of us suffering from cyberchondria. Simply
Go shopping! put, most of us suffer from jumping to conclusions
without getting hold of correct information or, just
Convert anything choosing to believe the insufficient information we
The fallacy explains how you could believe a
Price your home hypothesis that gives some evidence of one thing
without taking into consideration the prior
Dining out probability or, statistical and overall factual
evidence that contribute to the reasonable
possibility of that hypothesis actually being true.
For example, to believe that your skin blemish is a
GET IN TOUCH › rare cancer when you have a) only read one or two
pop-psychology pieces online and have not
checked their credibility and b) you haven't taken into consideration that the pieces you have read also say
that the cancer is both rare and only found in people that carry a specific gene, is totally blowing your
symptoms out of proportion. How on earth could you possibly know that's you?
Online medical students
Got something to say? Microsoft researcher and himself a medical doctor, Eric Horvitz, explains to The Independent UK: "The same
Click here to send a mail thing happened before the internet. I remember getting worried when I was studying medicine. According
to editor Bryony to one study, up to 75 per cent of first- and second-year medical students end up thinking they have one
Whitehead. significant yet imaginary disease based on what they're learning – some call it 'medical school-itis'."
In some respects, our easy access to medical information makes internet users prone to the same
psychoses. In other words, while we're intelligent and rational, at some stage we'll fall prey to an internet
So what is the solution? See a doctor? Stop surfing the internet? Apparently not. Contrary to all of the
above, the availability of medical information online has made us more aware and attentive to our health.
Many, including doctors, believe that education and awareness surrounding health has never been so
popular. People are more interested in their health and take better care of themselves as a result. So while
knowledge found on the internet may not be complete, it's better than no knowledge at all. The important
part is acknowledging the potential shortfalls of your concerns and following up to see a doctor.
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