One in four British women has misdiagnosed themselves on the internet, a study revealed yesterday.
Researchers found Dr Google is now the first port of call for women with genuine health concerns who are almost twice as likely to check online before consulting a doctor or even talking to Mum.
A trend towards trusting the internet over friends, family and medical professionals meant half of the 1,000 women studied would first try to treat an ailment themselves rather than risk embarrassment.
The research, which was commissioned by feminine health brand Balance Activ, found a quarter of British women will trust the internet for advice on treatments if they find their symptoms embarrassing.
Penny McCormick, spokesperson for Balance Activ said yesterday: ”There is an increasing trend towards using the internet to diagnose any irregularities or worries we have about our bodies.
”It’s important we learn which information to trust online and that we’re able to make the distinction between what can be self-diagnosed and easily treated, and what definitely requires the help of a medical professional. What can seem like a relatively harmless but embarrassing symptom could develop into something more serious so it is important for women to ensure they are asking the right questions and treating certain conditions effectively in the first instance.”
The study was carried out to mark National BV Day on 18th April – which aims to raise awareness of Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) – a condition that is almost twice as prevalent as thrush that 2 out of 3 women are misdiagnosing. If left untreated BV has been linked to some serious health implications including an increased risk in contracting STIs, infertility and miscarriage if present during pregnancy.
TOP 10 MOST COMMONLY MISDIAGNOSED
1. Breast cancer
2. Other forms of cancer
4. High blood pressure
9. Sexual health problems
10. Thyroid problems
TOP 10 SYMPTOMS WOMEN HAVE TRIED TO DIAGNOSE THEMSELVES
1. Sleep problems
5. Muscle spasms
6. Stomach cramps
7. Chronic muscle pains
8. Severe fatigue
10. Skin sensitivity
The report found that a fifth of women had at some time suspected they had a serious disease – the most common false alarm came over breast cancer, while many women had wrongly diagnosed themselves as having thrush, high blood pressure or asthma.
The symptoms most likely to prompt women to diagnose themselves are problems sleeping, headaches and depression, while muscle pain, itching and fatigue regularly cause women to consult Dr Google.
The agonising wait for answers is what drives thirty per cent of women to look for help online, while three quarters of the 1,000 women said there are certain health issues they aren’t comfortable talking to friends and family about – one in ten claim not to tell friends or family of any health problems because they don’t want the issue to be ‘made into a fuss’.
Indeed, women are more likely to trust their own diagnosis when embarrassed by their symptoms – half of the women would always try to deal with the problem themselves before seeking help from others.
Most women had spent a few days worrying over symptoms before speaking to anyone, while a worry-stricken third of the sample had endured at least two weeks sweating over an ailment.
Remarkably, one in twenty women said they had spent a number of years worrying a particular symptom was something serious before eventually getting it checked out.
Penny McCormick, spokesperson for Balance Activ continued: “With the resource the internet provides us, it makes sense that women now see this as the first place to consult, especially as they can do so in private.
“However women choose to get advice about their health, being embarrassed by symptoms should never lead to them making a quick or unsupported diagnosis on their own unless they are certain of the quality of the information.
“Worrying symptoms or anything relating to our intimate areas naturally makes it harder to deal with and often leads women to rush to a diagnosis or avoid the issue completely.
“Leaving symptoms untreated, particularly with BV, can lead to serious health implications including an increased risk in contracting STIs, infertility and miscarriage if present during pregnancy. That is why we have launched an online symptom checker so women with any health concerns relating to their intimate areas can diagnose themselves accurately to help treat it right. Visit www.balanceactiv.com/symptomchecker
Did you misdiagnose yourself after looking on the internet – Did it cause disastrous repercussions? Or perhaps doctors couldn’t find a diagnosis for your problem and it was Dr Google who eventually lead you to the answer? Let us know below.