Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Thanks a lot, WebMd

Almost a year ago, in May 2008, I was getting ready for bed and was feeling very drowsy, achy and tired. I attributed those feelings to a long weekend, but I had to be up bright and early to work as a chef the following morning, so I brushed off feeling under the weather as just a common cold. I brushed my teeth, washed my face, and before I got into bed, I started coughing. I know, coughing isn't a big deal for most people, but the next thing I knew, I was coughing up phlegm with blood in it. I freaked out, and did the only thing that made sense at the time--I logged onto WebMD.com. In my panicked state of mind, I clicked on the "Symptoms Checker" link and proceeded to fill out my symptoms accordingly. All of a sudden, symptoms kept popping up that I didn't even realize I had until I read WebMd. Feeling faint? Check. Tiredness? Check. Rapid heart beat? Check. Swelling neck? Check. I went though as many symptoms as I could, trying to get the most accurate diagnosis as possible. When my results came back to me, I ran into my parent's bedroom, scared to death that WebMd had diagnosed me correctly. I had tuberculosis.
  However, after waking up my dad, and explaining to him how I had come to the conclusion that I had TB, my dad pointed out that I did not, in fact, have TB, or even anything like it. I was just suffering from exhaustion and overworking myself, which ended up making a lot more sense than TB. One would think that I had learned my lesson the first time around with WebMd, but today, a very similar situation occurred. 

I didn't get a good night's sleep last night, and I woke up feeling groggy and tired. I downed several cups of green tea to give myself an energy boost before heading to class, and around noon, I started to experience a bonecrushing headache. The front right side of my head was pounding, and everything I did seemed to make it worse. I turned to WebMd, clicked on the "Symptoms Checker," and conveniently under symptoms for "head," they have a box that you can check that says "Headache (worst ever)." I thought for a second, decided that yes, this headache was the worst headache I've ever had, and I was expecting to be faced with many other options such as "Gets better or worse while exercising," or "Wakes you up in the middle of the night," which are usually common pages that the Symptoms Checker takes you to in hopes of accurately pinpointing your problem. However, after clicking the "Headache (worst ever)" box, the quiz was over and apparently WebMd is so accurate it only needed to know that one symptom to make an accurate diagnosis. It said I had a brain aneurysm. 

1 comment:

  1. It's called "Cyberchondria" (like Hypochondria).

    Microsoft: "Cyberchondria" disrupting people's lives

    You may have cyberchondria if you constantly find yourself combing the web for information on that headache, only to find that you could have lupus. Microsoft examined millions of search results and surveyed its employees to find out how people use medical information online, and it found that too much information can be debilitating.
    By Jacqui Cheng | Last updated November 25, 2008 11:32