POLL: More People Using ‘Dr. Google’

With lives as busy as ever and the cost of healthcare still rising, many Americans are turning to ‘Dr. Google’ for healthcare. A new report from the Tinker Law Firm in Seattle says 42% of Americans admit they consult the internet about health issues instead of seeing a doctor. In the study's state-by-state breakdown, it finds about the same percentage of Texans rely on the web over an actual doctor. The research covered 3,000 adults nationwide. Among its other findings, 15% of Americans suffer anxiety or "cyberchondria" when they Google their symptoms; and 1 in 5 parents say they would consult the internet before a doctor regarding their children's symptoms.

KTRH's Dr. Joe Galati says taking healthcare online is an extension of all other aspects of life---shopping, banking, etc.---that are increasingly moving into the cyber world. But he warns it can be risky. "(Going online) is part of our fabric now, it's just trying to make everybody realize that you have to be very careful of the ramifications of finding bad information," says Dr. Galati. "Many of these websites are camouflaged as a site that is selling something to you."

If you choose to peruse the internet for health information or diagnosis, Dr. Galati recommends sticking to reputable sites, rather than random ones that pop up in Google search results. "The Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health, most of the larger medical center/medical school sites are going to be accurate," he says.

The bottom line, according to Dr. Galati, is there is nothing wrong with consulting the internet on health issues, as long as you are careful about where on the internet you are going. "Even if it says it on the internet, you have to really be aware," he says. "And as I tell everybody, buyer beware when you are searching on the internet, unless it is truly coming from an expert website."

Listen to Your Health First with Dr. Joe Galati Sundays at 7 pm on Newsradio 740 KTRH

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