Doctors Advice: Do not google your illness.

Doctors Advice: Do not google your illness.


It is quite common these days to google your symptoms and find out if there is a name to what you have or feel if it is something you can ignore or investigate. And most often I am sure; people scare themselves looking it up online. I have too.

I have major interests in all things medicine; I should have been a doctor. But I didn’t want to put in my 20’s into studying also; I was in a hurry to earn money, so I did engineering. I was good in biology; I had a natural affinity towards medicine. Had the curiosity to know the why’s and what’s and how’s of an illness. I would Google it and read it. That’s it. There ended my curiosity. I have suffered through illness – dust allergic related, fractures, ligament reconstruction, accidents minor injuries, pregnancy and childbirth. So I have googled and understood to some level what all these medical conditions entailed. So when the doctors diagnosed the problems and provided a prognosis, I’d think to myself – the online info is pretty accurate.

It always isn’t so. The online information on the medical condition is a very good start point for a curious mind. But its information is wide-ranging when the articles list out the treatment and side effects for all the symptoms they always list from the best to the worst case scenarios. They mostly dwell on the worst case scenarios and off course at the end there’ll be a disclaimer that these symptoms or effects are subject to individual condition. So, even if you aren’t at the worst side of the illness spectrum. You are spooked.

My son has the dust allergy. It came to light when he was 15-months-old. Changes in weather, going out in the cold or dry weather would trigger a cough; it would persist and wouldn’t subside without medicine. This would go on during the winter season and he was on nebulization. Every doctor we visited, not a paediatrician, but a pulmonologist would suggest the same course of treatment. No one suggested it could be an infection in the lung. Googling his condition also didn’t show the possibility of an infection. It would tell of all the other ailments that he could possibly have, chronic conditions, diminished quality of life. Blah blah blah. I stopped reading on it. Took the alternate medicine route, ayurveda, it worked for some time, but it always came back. Even they didn’t suggest a possible infection.

Then we consulted Dr Shamitha Mitra Saha. She’s a pulmonologist. The first thing she asked was is he able to get his sputum out. If so, to get it cultured. There could be an infection. After the culture tests, it was proved that he did have an infection which required 45-doses of an antibiotic that isn’t often prescribed, given through an IV in his hand. I must mention my son is a brave boy; he went through with it without a fuss.

Another scenario, one of my friend discovered that their child had this condition of Congenital Diaphragmatic hernia in the 7th month of pregnancy. It’s a condition where diaphragm that separates the chest and abdominal cavities hasn’t fully developed. The diaphragm makes sure the intestines don’t go into the chest cavity.

What my friend did about it, is this. He listened to his doctors completely. Didn’t Google about the condition. He got all his questions answered from the doctors. But he did research online on who will the best Surgeon to do the corrective surgery when the child is born. He knew about all the worst case scenarios that online information provided. He didn’t give heed to it. He prepared himself, made sure his baby got the right people to help her when she comes into the world. By God’s grace, the baby is doing fine.

If the diagnosis of a condition isn’t correctly done, the prognosis will also not be correct. This is known and understood. But he further said, all that one can do is find the “right” doctor, who will give you that “correct” diagnosis. I am happy that he kept his cool about it and the new parents will be going home with a healthy baby. Thank God.

This post isn’t probably entertaining but hopefully insightful.  Our stories needed to be told. As always, your insights, comments or stories related are most welcome.