This time of year, the flu is a hot search topic online. But should people be matching their symptoms on the web instead of getting checked by a doctor?
A new study shows that 35 percent of American adults try to self diagnose themselves online.
According to Pew Research, when asked if the information found online led them to think they needed the attention of a medical professional, 46 percent of online diagnosers say that was the case.
Thirty-eight percent of online diagnosers say it was something they could take care of at home, and 11 percent say it was both or in-between.
"People look at the internet for their loved ones, their fathers, their mothers, their children. It is not uncommon to see printouts now. It happens multiple times a day that we see someone who's researched online," said Dr. Greg Sweat, with the Shawnee Mission Medical Center.
And when it comes to influenza, Sweat says the web and some rest may be all someone needs.
"If you're pretty healthy, young and you are not over the age of 65 or your child is older than the age of 5, you can pretty much do it at home ... self diagnose and stay at home," he said.
According to the study, 77 percent of the online health seekers say they began at a search engine such as Google, Bing or Yahoo.
Another 13 percent say they began at a site that specializes in health information, like WebMD.
Just 2 percent say they started their research at a more general site like Wikipedia and an additional 1 percent say they started at a social network site like Facebook.
Online searches usually put people on the right track when it comes to common illnesses, Sweat says.
But other times, Sweat says, people will come in with the most bizarre self-diagnosed illness that doctors rarely see.
"They think they've got, when in actuality they really don't have anything. They just may not be sleeping well," he said.
In any case, researching or trying to self-diagnose can just lead to self education.
"The more educated a patient is, the better it is. The better it is for all of us," Sweat said.
Pew Research surveyed 3,014 adults in the study by phone.
Their findings also found that women are more likely than men to go online to figure out a possible diagnosis.
Other groups that also have a high likelihood of doing so include younger people, white adults, those who live in households earning $75,000 or more, and those with a college degree or advanced degrees, the report states.
"It is important to note what these findings mean – and what they don't mean. Historically, people have always tried to answer their health questions at home and made personal choices about whether and when to consult a clinician," the authors noted in the report.
The study confirmed that when it came to serious health problems, people's No. 1 choice for care was logging off and going to the doctor.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
Do you self-diagnose before seeing a doctor?
Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:
It depends on my symptoms
Dr. Google? 1 in 3 turn to web for self-diagnosis, report saysMore>>
Friday, May 17 2013 7:16 PM EDT2013-05-17 23:16:53 GMT
One person has died in a crash near Harrisonville, MO, Thursday evening. The crash happened on Missouri Highway 7 and Walker Road. It involved a car and a tractor-trailer. Harrisonville is in Cass County.More >
Savannah Nash celebrated her 16th birthday last week. She died Thursday when her car slammed into a semi while she was texting during her first time driving by herself.More >
Saturday, May 18 2013 2:54 AM EDT2013-05-18 06:54:01 GMT
An Oregon girl abducted as a baby and missing for 18 years finally emerged in Dallas this week when her mother turned herself in to authorities, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Department. More >
An Oregon girl abducted as a baby and missing for 18 years finally emerged in Dallas this week when her mother turned herself in to authorities, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Department.More >
Friday, May 17 2013 11:00 PM EDT2013-05-18 03:00:58 GMT
A masked man barged into a local marijuana dispensary and robbed two people at gunpoint. It happened at 10:45 a.m. Thursday morning at the Relief Medical Marijuana Facility on Southeast 122nd near Glisan.More >
An armed robber held a gun to the back of a woman's head and threatened to shoot her if he didn't get marijuana. More >
Wednesday, May 15 2013 2:57 PM EDT2013-05-15 18:57:11 GMT
The old saying goes, "If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen." Perhaps, this applies to Kitchen Nightmares, as well. An Arizona bakery was featured on Friday's episode of the Gordon RamseyMore >
The old saying goes, "If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen." Perhaps, this applies to Kitchen Nightmares, as well.More >
An online beauty contest created by teenage boys is causing a controversy at Newberg High School, but the school can't do much to stop it. It's called May Madness, a bracket contest that ranks high schoolMore >
A "May Madness" bracket at Newberg High School ranks high school girls on their "hotness."More >
One of Alaska's most restless volcanoes has shot an ash cloud 15,000 feet into the air in an ongoing eruption that has drawn attention from a nearby community but isn't expected to threaten air traffic.More >
One of Alaska's most restless volcanoes shot an ash cloud 15,000 feet into the air Friday in an ongoing eruption that is visible for miles when the weather allows.More >
Friday, May 17 2013 4:23 PM EDT2013-05-17 20:23:49 GMT
A SWAT team serving a search warrant in Vancouver arrested two men on charges of rape and unlawful imprisonment.Sergio Leon, 21, and Aaron-Blair Davey, 24, were taken into custody in connection with aMore >
Two men accused of holding a woman down and raping her were arrested in a raid at a Vancouver home yesterday. More >
Friday, May 17 2013 4:10 PM EDT2013-05-17 20:10:42 GMT
SWAT teams arrested three men accused of pointing a loaded gun at a black man at a Vancouver bar and threatening to kill him. Brent Luyster, 32, and his brother Robert Luyster, 31, were both taken intoMore >
SWAT teams arrested three men accused of pointing a loaded gun at a man at a Vancouver bar and threatening to kill him because of his race.More >