“Doctor Google” is a term I’ve been using for years, after receiving countless calls, texts, and emails from clients who were riddled with anxiety over the possibility of having a disease or fatal medical condition they read about on an online article from a medical website.
They want to know what I would do if I had what they think they have after going to Doctor Google. Of course I tell them, “when in doubt, check it out” but I also find myself having to calm them down, and remind them to speak to a qualified healthcare provider who specializes in those issues.
The problem is that people often search for explanations for why they don’t feel well from an online source, and fail to realize that they don’t have all the information before them to make any effective decisions regarding their health and wellness.
Although the internet is a wealth of information, the internet was never meant to be a tool for diagnosing your health condition. Medical websites like WebMD publish the symptoms you would find in a Physician’s Desk Reference and other medical reference sources. This is for reference only, and not the final say on research and treatment modalities.
What you don’t see, are the knowledgeable cross references physicians make based on studies they’ve read, and first hand experience in the trenches of healthcare, treating and diagnosing various health issues.
A Family Practice doctor once laughed and told me that “…all online references at some point lead to cancer.” It was a joke, about the reality of how people will look to the internet out of concern of being unwell, and end up freaking themselves out by reading all the worst case scenarios that a symptom can lead towards, is a concerning reality.
Bottom line, Doctor Google potentially creates an anxiety in people, and sometimes makes them desperate to try unproven remedies and homemade treatments, based on assumptions and oftentimes a person’s testimonial online.
This practice can potentially lead to damaging trends to ones health.
For example, a recent trend based on a few articles and Facebook posts, is to bump up your Vitamin D intake. Specifically using the most absorbable form of Vitamin D called D3. The online articles and social media posts seem harmless enough, and have a very attractive reported benefits to boost our immune systems by increasing our vitamin D3 intake. However, none of these articles and posts mention how much D3 to use, they just stated the almost magical results by taking these vitamin pills and oils.
So of course there has been an uptick in sales of vitamin D3 in the United States. The problem being is that D3 is fat soluble, so it does not break down with water, and can remain in our bodies for quite some time.
I have one dear friend who managed to increase her vitamin D levels by purchasing various bottles of it. After reading an article online about how D3 can help boost the immune system, she started placing D3 everywhere in her house so she can so It was accessible at all times. she even tracked with a few bottles.
The problem being is that the online article she read didn’t talk about proper dosages, so she just took D3 constantly for weeks. Eventually she noticed that she wasn’t feeling well, so she went to see her Family Practice doctor.
Like any proficient physician, he had her blood tested for a panel. Shortly thereafter, he called her, and told her to stop taking any more vitamin D3. Her D3 levels tested at the toxicity marker. Yes, my friend was poisoning herself with vitamin D3 all due to an online source. Yes, Doctor google could potentially kill us if we act upon an article clearly not well written in the communication arena.
By the way, many healthcare providers suggest you not exceed 30,000 IU a week. At times, when a patient’s levels are drastically low, they prescribe a pharmaceutical form of vitamin D, that they cannot exceed 50,00 IU weekly and cannot take it past four weeks.
My friend is one of the most brilliant people I know, yet she even fell prey to Doctor Google.
On a side note, many physicians encourage patients to make sure they take Calcium Citrate because taking large quantities of vitamin D will eventually lead to stomach pain, as you need to take Calcium to make the vitamin D more absorbable.
Google is a company I respect immensely, because they have made searching the web easier, and websites are so much easier to extract information. However, the health information that gets shared when someone seeks out Dr Google is wanting of the knowledge and skill that most qualified healthcare providers have. So why not take that information and those concerns, and find the right healthcare provider who can process that information in directions you never thought possible, and I assure you the name will never be Doctor Google.
Here’s to your health and wellness! Cheers!
Michelle Quevedo is a Health and Wellness Mentor, who has consulted with Captains of Industry, Professional Athletes, Olympiads, Government Agencies, Physicians and other Healthcare Providers.
She currently hosts a podcast under the name “Inner World Health and Wellness”
You can find her Podcast at Anchor.fm/innerworld
Or on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Radio Public, Breaker Audio, and soon to be released on iTunes.