More Americans turning to the web before doctors - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

More Americans turning to the web before doctors

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Amarillo, Texas - More Americans are now seeking health advice on the internet before seeing a doctor.

Most of us do it... Searching online to find out what is wrong with ourselves or a loved one. But, doctors are saying that isn't always a bad thing.

One in every three Americans is Googling their ailments according to a recently released study by the Pew Research Center.

We did a little investigating ourselves...

"I think the doctors are a lot smarter than I am," Gene Sanders says.

"Time consuming. It's a lot easier just to go to urgent care, and then they tell you what's wrong. Unless you got something really wrong then you go to the emergency room, but that's a whole other story," Kevin Neel says.

"Really I don't have time to go to the doctor, so sometimes I just Google it to WebMD and see if I really need to go to the doctor, or if I can just do a home remedy," Jackie Hernandez says.

Searching for medical advice should never replace a visit to living, breathing doctor.

Many doctor's do say they encourage informed patients.

"What you'll find is very few doctor's will argue having a well informed patient whose engaged in their health care is a good thing," Brian Weis, M.D., Texas Tech School of Medicine says.

But, medical experts say you shouldn't trust any single website to always have the best or most up-to-date information on any condition. But, some sites are going to be more helpful than others.

"A lot of times the good websites will either be .org or .gov websites. Again these are associated with very large medical facilities or associations," Weis says.

There are sites to also be aware of...

"What they need to avoid is either blog sites, chat rooms, bulletin boards, because there you'll find what we call anecdotal evidence. Where people say well in my experience, and a lot of times that may not reflect everyone else's experience," Weis says.

Dr. Weis says a danger of self diagnoses online could be an under diagnoses. Always consult a real-life physician after doing your own research.