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Cyberchondria is a term used to describe the behavior of individuals who use the Internet to gather information on their health. The term appears to be derived from the terms cyber- and hypochondria. Microsoft researchers performed a study on health-related Web searches on popular search engines and surveyed the company’s employees and found that self--diagnosis by search engine frequently leads Web searchers to conclude the worst about what troubles them.
An example of exaggeration would be self-diagnosing a brain-tumor out of a chronic morning headache.

The goal of the study was to examine the situation and potentially add features to Microsoft’s search service that could make it more of an adviser and less of a blind information retrieval tool.
Although the term “cyberchondria” dates from 2000, this is the first systematic look at the anxieties of people doing searches related to health care.

Researchers found that many people treated search engines as if they could answer questions like a human expert and mostly looked at just the first couple of results. When they would read ‘brain tumor’, that would be the end of their investigation and their self-diagnosis.

When examining the results of a web search, the researchers found that keywords like headache and chest pain were just as likely or more likely to lead people to pages describing serious conditions as benign ones, even though the serious illnesses are much more rare.

The intention of the researchers is not send the message that people should ignore symptoms but to point out that researching particular symptoms online often leads to additional anxiousness.

About 2 % of all Web queries were health-related, and about 250,000 users, or about a quarter of the sample, engaged in a least one medical search during the study. One third of the subjects “escalated” their follow-up searches to explore serious illnesses. Many reported that the results they received from their online medical queries had interrupted their day-to-day activities at least once.

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I certainly fit the definition of a "cyberchondriac". But I disagree with the researchers' notion that researching particular symptoms online often leads to additional anxiousness. Quite the contrary, the conclusion that I had come to regarding a certain illness concurred with that of the doctors almost 100% of the time. For example, I accurately predicted the possibility of parathyroid cancer when I noticed that the levels of parathyroid hormone and calcium of an elderly relative of mine were too high. I pointed this out to her endocrinologist who immediately ordered a nuclear scan. Cancer was detected and was removed.
I consider cyberchondria a virtue rather than a disease. An educated patient is in a much better position to manage his/her illness, and this often leads to a more positive outcome.
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Bloody hell thats me im a Cyberchondriac %-)
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