HOUSTON, TX – Flu season is here and already some 400,000 Texans have been to their doctor complaining of flu-like symptoms. That number is up from this time last year. Another number that’s up is the amount of people not going to their doctor. Turns out some 35% of Americans are choosing to stay home and diagnose themselves with the help of those on-line diagnosis websites. It’s a trend doctors aren’t thrilled to see.
“A lot of times people will think that they have a common cold,’ Dr. Jeremy Szeto of Sugar Land explains, ‘but if they’re not getting better or if their symptoms get worse, then they could have something more serious, something like a bacterial infection where they need antibiotics.”
So if you’re thinking it’s just a cold and it would be easier to diagnose yourself, beware. A misdiagnosis could lead to bigger problems.
“They’re right in at least getting the initial diagnosis kind of in the right ballpark,’ Dr. Szeto says, ‘but in terms of treatment and what needs to be done next, and in terms of follow-up, they really don’t have a good understanding of that.”
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use the websites altogether, only that you should be prepared in case your case isn’t so simple.
“You know, a common cold or something easy like that, the website can kind of point you in the right direction or tell you what the next appropriate steps to do, what they are, but if it’s something that’s very complicated or they have no idea, or they’re just fishing around, that can actually lead to more harm than good.”