Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
The Internet

Meet Web Hypochondriacs 587

prostoalex writes "When Jerome K. Jerome in 1889 described going to the British Museum to read medical encyclopedia and subsequently finding symptoms of almost all diseases in his body, he didn't realize the problem would exacerbate more than a century later. Web hypochondriacs are calling up doctors with requests for prescriptions for all sorts of diseases, since they discovered some similar symptoms on the Web. Wall Street Journal quotes a doctor: 'My impression is that people believe more of what they read than what I tell them. It seems that traditional Western medicine based on scientific evidence is less and less trusted by the general public. Meanwhile, some dubious theory from the Internet will be swallowed hook, line and sinker nine times out of 10.' "
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Meet Web Hypochondriacs

Comments Filter:
  • OMG! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Junior J. Junior III ( 192702 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @09:56AM (#13102889) Homepage
    That sounds EXACTLY like the problem *I* have!!!!

    I hope there's a cure...
    • It's probably because almost all of the research is funded by corporations that make themselves sound good. I mean, I'd rather trust someone who I didn't know, but I considered a *regular guy* instead of a paid researcher who told what to find. I mean, word of mouth advertising versus reading magazine advertisements. I'd believe word of mouth more.

      Don't let your family be ignorant any more, send them to [] (The Free Online Computer Encyclopedia)
      • It's probably because almost all of the research is funded by corporations that make themselves sound good. I mean, I'd rather trust someone who I didn't know, but I considered a *regular guy* instead of a paid researcher who told what to find.

        Personally? I don't trust any of them. From the summary:

        It seems that traditional Western medicine based on scientific evidence is less and less trusted by the general public.

        Is this the same scientific evidence that said "Margarine is good", "Eggs are bad", and
        • by B'Trey ( 111263 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:44AM (#13103342)
          Is this the same scientific evidence that said "Margarine is good", "Eggs are bad", and "We know about triglyceride problems, but we'll built the Food Pyramid this way because people are too stupid?" I'm sorry, all medical "science" does is stumble around in circles until they land on top of something remotely approaching the truth.

          You have a valid point to some extent, but much of what you're talking about doesn't come from the scientific medical establishment - it comes from agenda-driven groups, corporate shills, and govenrment administrations who buy their propoganda. For example, actual medical science indicates that obesity isn't particularly unhealthy. Inactivity, which often accomponies obesity, IS quite unhealthy. But if you get a reasonable amount of exercise, your health isn't likely to suffer from carrying extra pounds until you reach extreme limits, well past what is specified as being obese. In fact, you're likely to suffer fewer problems from being overweight than you are from being underweight. So why is there so much talk about the "obesity epedemic" in America? Because there's a multi-billion dollar diet and diet food industry out there that wants to sustain itself, and it pours lots and lots of money into advertising and propoganda. There have been lots of studies which do not control for inactivity. Those studies show a corelation between being overweight and health problems, and assume a cause and effect, when the real cause is the underlying inactivity. But the flawed studies are still being used to support the "obesity will kill you" claim. There are lots of honest, well-meaning, but misinformed people who really believe that obesity will kill you (hell, everybody knows it, right?) and they're interested in helping save your life.

          What does the science tell you about your health and your weight? If you're interested in your health, throw out the scale. DON'T go on a diet but do pay a bit of attention to what you eat. Try to get a few vegetables in your system in between the Big Macs and the beer brats. But most importantly, get your ass up off the couch and get a bit of exercise. If it trims you down a bit, great. If not, don't worry about it. It ain't that big a deal. But that's not what the nutritionist and the diet industry tell you, and their voice is much louder than the actual science.

          So please don't confuse medical science with the medical establishment or with the various government guides. They aren't the same thing at all.
          • by Martin Blank ( 154261 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @11:00AM (#13103524) Homepage Journal
            As I understand it, extra weight isn't unhealthy (and may actually be healthier on average than "proper" weight), but true obesity (defined as 25% to 30% body fat content, depending on what sources you use) is a health problem that can bring about a number of ailments, including liver and kidney diseases and congestive heart failure. However, true obesity is also less common than many studies would have you think.

            Your point on exercise is important, though. The people that I've seen that are generally in shape are those that are willing to put in even a little bit of effort, even if they eat too much. There's no need to do an hour on a treadmill and a dozen laps in the Olympic pool; sometimes it's just as simple as taking the 20 minute walk instead of the ten-minute drive (people in the city know this one) or playing in the pool for a little while a few times a week. If you can learn to fidget, this may also help, as the extreme end of this can actually handle a few hundred calories a day, but if you have touchy coworkers, this may not be the best option. :)
          • You have a valid point to some extent, but much of what you're talking about doesn't come from the scientific medical establishment

            It's easy to blame the "corporate shills", but the examples I mentioned (with margarine, perhaps, being the only exception) are really what medical science preached. There didn't use to be any differentiation between "good cholesterol" and "bad cholesterol". Nor was the Food Pyramid built by corporations. (If it was, you can be certain that it would tell you to get your daily
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @11:07AM (#13103598)
          Is this the same scientific evidence that said "Margarine is good", "Eggs are bad"

          No, they never said anything of the sort. YOU, as the general population, took what they DID say and made 3-word sentences out of it because that's all you're capable of understanding.

          Medical science is usually very fair about what they know and don't know, it's what happens when the information gets out into the uneducated masses that it changes into some degenerate version of itself.
        • Forget about the doctors and their "fads of the week".

          You've got to be kidding. You think DOCTORS have fads of the week??? Jesus H., just take a look at all the people who AREN'T doctors and then you'll see real fads in action.

          There's a saying (taken from an old SF writer) that 90% of what you read on the internet is crap. When it comes to health care, 99% of what you read on the internet is crap primarily because the people spewing it around in one big technicolor yawn don't have the first fucking cl
        • I'm sorry, all medical "science" does is stumble around in circles until they land on top of something remotely approaching the truth.

          Are we talking about the same medical science that eradicated [] smallpox (a sickness that killed up to 40% of the afflicted and caused the death of about 2 million [] people in only in the year 1967)? The same medicine that reduced the cases of polio in the world from 350000 in 1988 [] to 759 in 2005 [] (till now)?

          I'm sorry, but your complaints about margarine and/or eggs don't
    • Re:OMG! (Score:4, Funny)

      by Gzip Christ ( 683175 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:13AM (#13103068) Homepage
      That sounds EXACTLY like the problem *I* have!!!!
      I hope there's a cure...
      You're in luck, I have just what you need. It's called Placebo(TM) and it's used far more widely than any "medicine". Coming soon to a spam near you.
  • I have MSBlaster! And Slammer! No, you got to believe me. They keep attempt to spread from within me. It's very annoying and has cost me three friends already -- I can't loose many more! And this Norton Anti-Virus doesn't seem to be working. I don't even know where to put the CD!
  • The Web (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bodester17 ( 892112 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @09:57AM (#13102894)
    I think the web is making everyone out to gullable. We all need to remember that there is a lot of FALSE information on the web. I think this applies to other things other than medicine. The web is giving a false sense of knowlege.
    • Re:The Web (Score:4, Insightful)

      by audiodude ( 897858 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @09:59AM (#13102926)
      Unfortunately, this applies to Wikipedia, too. It's a great resource, and mostly accurate. But many things that people post might be hearsay, if only for the fact that they don't cite any sources. Without citations, how can you really trust anything you read there?
      • The whole purpose of Wikipedia is that anyone, absolutely anyone, can add information to a topic. This alone should cause people to be at least somewhat skeptical of what is posted there, but it seems like many people believe all of what they read without even questioning it. You could ask them if they know things on the internet can be false and they'll say yes, but there is some sort of mental disconnect between knowing this fact and applying it to what people actually read.
      • Re:The Web (Score:4, Funny)

        by lanswitch ( 705539 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:17AM (#13103099)
        Without citations, how can you really trust anything you read there?
        I'm sorry, but without proper citation, how can I know that your claim is true?
    • Re:The Web (Score:3, Funny)

      by aussie_a ( 778472 )
      I think the web is making everyone out to gullable.

      I agree. I doubt very much there really are web hypochondriacs. Only the truly gullible will believe this article.
      • Re:The Web (Score:2, Funny)

        by NineNine ( 235196 )
        I agree. I doubt very much there really are web hypochondriacs. Only the truly gullible will believe this article.

        Or maybe it's your post that only the gullible believe? Hmm... who to believe...?
        • I agree. I doubt very much there really are web hypochondriacs. Only the truly gullible will believe this article.
          Or maybe it's your post that only the gullible believe? Hmm... who to believe...?
          There should be an "Induces Headache" moderation option. I just can't figure out whether it would be +1 or -1.
    • The web is giving a false sense of knowlege.

      It's not the web. It's people that create a lot of false information. Poeple have been believing them for centuries. The Internet just gives people a place to publish whatever idea they want, regardless of if it's true, to the world.
    • I don't think it's just the web that's making people out to be fools lately. Personally, I think the root of it is peoples' growing desire for instant gratification. I think most people would rather not admit that they have the flu and that they'll feel miserable for two weeks until they get over it. Most of people I've met would rather look up symptoms on the net and find some condition that tells them they would only need to take 150mg of $foo for two days and be done that much quicker. The wealth of misi
      • Re:The multitudes (Score:4, Insightful)

        by pcidevel ( 207951 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:46AM (#13103371)
        You underestimate humanity. The desire for a quick fix is nothing new and it's not growing, it's been here for centuries and it will be here for centuries to come. It's part of the human condition. It just happens to be manifesting itself in slightly different ways because the world is slightly different today than it was 100 years ago. Today we take anti-virals (which happen to work, I can testify to this, thanks to my recurring bouts of shingles), 100 years ago we lined up for snake oil (which happens to not work).

        Technology has advanced, our ability to create cures has advanced, our desire for a quick fix to our ailments (be that illness, or lack of money, or lack of knowledge, or boredom, or whatever else ails us) is the same as it ever was..
  • by XFilesFMDS1013 ( 830724 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @09:57AM (#13102896)
    2000 BC: Here, take this root.
    1000 AD: That root is for a heathen. Here, say this prayer.
    1850 AD: That prayer is superstition. Here, drink this potion.
    1940 AD: That potion is snake oil. Here, swallow this pill.
    1985 AD: That pill is ineffective. Here take this antibiotic.
    2000 AD: That antibiotic is artificial. Here, eat this root.
    2005 AD: That root works! Read about it on my blog!
    • 2005 AD: That root works! Read about it on my blog!

      It does work! I tried rooting my wife, but I just couldn't get it up. So I went down to the corner and hired a seamstress, that root worked! You can read about it on my blog for more details at []
    • It's from (Score:2, Informative)

      by mnemonic_ ( 164550 )
      The original: []
    • by Junior J. Junior III ( 192702 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:06AM (#13102995) Homepage
      1970: I don't think it's a good idea to give root access to just anyone.
    • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:09AM (#13103022) Homepage
      It's true though.

      And in my opinion, there are two things that lead to better health:

      1. Eat good food. I'm definitely as guilty as the rest (probably more so since I TRULY know better) that having the fresh vegetables, cutting back on starches and excess red meat is just better for you and your body will tell you so every morning you wake up from a single day of eating well. Don't believe me? Just for ONE DAY eat some soup and salad staying away from stuff with dairy and such. Just one day and see how you feel in the morning. If you still feel like crap I'll admit that I'm wrong.

      2. Don't be "TOO CLEAN." If you don't exercise, you will become weak and slow. If your immune system isn't kept busy, it will also become weak and slow. I see people go to great lengths to avoid this and that only to be stricken down by the most simple of viruses or bacteria. Quit taking freakin' anti-biotics and let your own immune system handle stuff (when possible). (I'll never forget how a sister-in-law proclaimed my sons needed anti-biotics because the had sniffles. It's insanity.) I still can't remember the last time I've actually been "sick." Had a minor reaction from some KFC recently but that's about it. You don't have to be disgusting about it, but resist doing too much and leave the "anti-bacterial soap" on the store shelves -- you don't need it!
      • I ate fruit and vegetables and no red meat yesterday and I still feel like crap.

        Also, I think it is highly irresponsible on your part to suggest to /. readers that showers are in some way "optional."
      • by zenyu ( 248067 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @11:23AM (#13103750)
        2. Don't be "TOO CLEAN."

        Just a little appendum, always wash your hands after using the bathroom including between your fingers, and up to your elbows after no. 2. Also, do use the anti-bacterial soap when you ARE sick, it will work better if you didn't use it before you were sick.

        It's not because not doing it is gross, nor is it for keeping you healthy, it is for the health of the people you interact with. Hand and bandage washing is what extended lifespan in the 19th and early 20th century. It has had an impact comparable to the discovery of anti-biotics in the mid-20th century.

        Oh, a bit offtopic, wash your fruit and veggies with a mild solution of soap, the soap removes waxy anti-fungals and anti-insect poisons. The poisons won't kill you (well they shouldn't), but the fruits will taste better. The poisons have a bitter taste, most noticable on sweets such as apples and strawberries.
    • Hyponchondriac is nothing. Alternativ medicine is more dangerous in my eye : people really ill getting alternative treatment and dying. And the web make for an exponential propagation of those despite that they are if not all, mostly junk.

      Just have a look at all those totally supersticious claim and alternative medicine : homeopathy, colorotherapy, herbotherapy, crytsllotherapy, fengshui... Indeed we are in a demon haunted world [].

      I think education is the only answer, but how can you educate people when
      • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:30AM (#13103234) Journal
        This whole love affair with snake oil really is an effect of the anti-rational, post-modern feel-good crap that at least some sizable minority of people in the West are buying into. These con-men see suckers a mile away, and tell them what they want to hear, that Western medicine is a collusion between drug companies and governments to make people take pills they don't need, that "folk" medicine somehow has some particular virtue that makes it superior to legitimate treatments.

        I do have problems with the way drug companies have been allowed to operate, and to essentially bypass the family doctor by directly marketing to the public. But, at the end of the day, science has given us medicines and therapies that actually work, as opposed to superstitious mumbojumbo mixed with some really scientific sounding words. I'm not saying that all "alternative" therapies are bunk, but if they're not put through double-blind studies, then how the hell can anybody actually say?

      • I think you're right about education being important.

        I'll stop there. Ok, so I won't.

        The ailment is called "hypochondria". A person who has it is called a "hypochondriac".

        "Hypochondriacism" would be worship of hypochondriacs.

        I'll assume that the other misspellings and such are the product of typographical errors. As for what I can infer is the point of your post, that bad medicine causes hypochondria, you're just wrong.

        You can't cure hypochondria through education. A hypochondriac has a specific ne
  • Too true (Score:3, Funny)

    by Spacejock ( 727523 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @09:58AM (#13102902) Homepage
    I'd post a longer comment but my RSI is playing up.
  • E-mail? (Score:4, Funny)

    by aussie_a ( 778472 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @09:58AM (#13102905) Journal
    Web hypochondriacs are calling up doctors with requests for prescriptions for all sorts of diseases

    I've got some e-mails about getting their pills if the doctor won't prescribe it.
  • The prescriptions in real life getting from an actual doctor usually cost a lot, and most normal diseases, admittedly, are not 'urgent' by many people standard. If they can save some money, many are willing to try something they never heard of. Hey, worst is that they don't work and they will have to see a real doctor.
    • Chalking it up to price is a very limited view of the problem. I know, my wife has this exact problem, to the point where I've had to threaten to block certain websites at the firewall. It has nothing to do with price. The problem that I see is the "warnings" on the internet are all vaguely worded enough to apply to almost any symptoms you have.

      Her problem is she has a couple of very real health problems that require her to take some serious drugs with some nasty side effects. However, she has a nasty
    • Actually, the worst is that, since they aren't doctors themselves, they miss the warning signs of a serious condition, treat themselves unsuccessfully based on some crap they read online, and 6 months later when they finally get around to seeing a doctor their condition is no longer treatable, or serious damage has been done during the delay. You'd be amazed at the myriad ways patients try to delay seeing a doctor, perhaps thinking that if no doctor has told them they're sick, they're not actually sick. T
  • My ex, and her sister, are both like this. They'll take the wildest treatments for various things instead of just riding out a cold, or putting a bandaid on a cut. And, dont get them started on anything like surgery or radiation treatment, no.

  • Online database (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mfloy ( 899187 )
    The fact is, people are going to use the web when they are ill to look for information about the illness. The best thing to do is to provide reliable data, so they don't end up diagnosing themselves based on information they found on a blog. The user could enter symptoms, and a list of possibilities could be listed (as well as numerous messages telling them to go see a doctor). It would be similar to the program Lisa uses to diagnose Homer and Bart as lepers.
  • I know, I know, they're all quack theories... but what about this one []. I mean, just look at this site [] and all it's pictoral evidence.

    Duct Tape, the savoir of mankind, can do anything it puts its mind to. First and foremost, it can cure plantar warts! Hooray.
  • Darn (Score:2, Funny)

    I got all excited when I saw the title and thought ... Wow! People get spyware just by convincing themselves it's there! Oh well. **Returns to Python**
  • On the flip side (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SCHecklerX ( 229973 ) <> on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @09:59AM (#13102924) Homepage
    It's nice to have the information researchable, so that you can get more information than what your doctor tells you. I've recently started suffering from eczema outbreaks, followed by a couple of nasty infections over the past year. I've seen several GPs, a couple of dermatologists, and an infectious disease specialist for the infection that keeps popping up all over my legs. Aside from the antibiotics, the things I've read about eczema on the web have helped me more than the vague advice given by the family doctors and dermatologists.
    • A lot of times the problem isn't that the doctors are giving vague advice, it's that people aren't comfortable asking questions of their doctor, or they aren't comfortable answering their doctor's questions. However, they have no trouble asking strangers online, or a search engine these same questions.

      A doctor can only do so much with the information given, and out of embarassment, a lot of people don't provide all the details they really should (like that extra little pain in your abdomen that is probabl
    • by hackstraw ( 262471 ) *
      I've seen several GPs, a couple of dermatologists, and an infectious disease specialist for the infection that keeps popping up all over my legs. Aside from the antibiotics, the things I've read about eczema on the web have helped me more than the vague advice given by the family doctors and dermatologists.

      That's my experience as well. After 4 years of regular college and 4 years of memorization, doctors are given almost godlike esteem with little to no evidence of them deserving their godlike aura (asid
  • by BlackCobra43 ( 596714 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @09:59AM (#13102932)
    WebMD is the worst thing to come along for Hypocondriacs since pneumoconiosis and other sesquipadelian afflictions.
  • by Monte ( 48723 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @09:59AM (#13102933)
    Wall Street Journal quotes a doctor: 'My impression is that people believe more of what they read than what I tell them...

    Of course! Because you're telling them things like "Stop smoking, don't drink so much, cut down the fat, get some excersize, brush your teeth and watch your diet". Who the hell wants to hear that? Websites aren't so much interested in your health as they are in getting ad impresions, so they probably aren't going to preach.

    On the internet no one knows you're a fat lazy bastard with bad habits. [but if I were a betting man, that's where I'd put my money]
    • by vondo ( 303621 ) * on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:11AM (#13103052)
      Wall Street Journal quotes a doctor: 'My impression is that people believe more of what they read than what I tell them...

      And part of the reason for that is that a doctor will talk to you for 2 minutes (or maybe just have his secretary talk to you on the phone, take notes, and call you back) and diagnose you. You, on the other hand, have spend hours looking into what might be wrong with you.

      I've had exactly that happen. I was on anti-biotics for 20 days (two treatments) when the real problem was allergies. Going in and seeing someone led to a proper diagnosis. A lot of people are fed up with doctors, and not always for bad reasons.

      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:49AM (#13103401) Homepage Journal
        Funny but I have had the exact opposite happen. I went to a doctor for a small infection. The doctor looked at it gave me some meds and told me to come back in two days. It was not healing as well as he would have liked so he did a blood test. Turns out I was diabetes and did not know it. He spent a lot of time claiming me down and telling me not to worry that my life was not over and that we would manage it. He found me a good endo and got me on treatment. I am doing well and I am managing it with diet and just some light drugs now.
        The strange thing is that doctor was at a walk in insta med clinic!
      • by spineboy ( 22918 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @11:23AM (#13103746) Journal
        Doctors typically get about $7 dollars/month for HMOpatients, weather they use the doctors service. Many people sign up with an HMO and then expect Merceded-Benz medicine when they're paying for Yugo medicine. Would the Doctor like to spend more time with you - of course, but since they are now working for the "man" - i.e. the HMO, they arelimited to seeing patients every 5 minutes just to keep pace.

        Will hiring more MDs fix the problem- NO! because DOctors are typically working all the time -getting calls from hypochondriacs, and from people who are actually sick. Familly practice and Pediatricians are about the lowest paid MDs around and they start around $80k in Kalifornia - and that's for working around 70 hours a week.

        Lesson is if you want a better service - you need to pay for it.

  • by AccUser ( 191555 ) <mhg@tao s e . c> on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:00AM (#13102938) Homepage
    My wife will get some symptom, and then scour books and the web for indications of possible diagnosis. I found it funny after a while, but the first couple of times she declared that she had cancer or MS was quite worrying.

    The funniest thing is that my wife is a doctor.
    • I hear ya, Brother! (I'm in exactly the same situation)
    • by Wudbaer ( 48473 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:10AM (#13103031) Homepage
      Don't tell me about it. I'm an MD by training, and it was always hell learning for exams. You are going through this really really big book full of crippling and lethal diseases, and not only lethal, but painful-disfiguring-debilitating-disabling-finally -after-some-years-lethal diseases. It's fine at first, but then: Oops. That here, that funny itch I always... oh ok, only women can get that. Whooo. But THIS one ! OMG ! I'm gonna die ! Next page. Repeat. One finally gets used to it and stops dying for several times per chapter, but it shows that not only health Web sites are dangerous.
  • by SirCyn ( 694031 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:00AM (#13102941) Journal
    Doctors (their mistakes) are the 3rd leading cause of death in the USA. Leading-Cause-of-Death-in-the-US.htm []

    This article is a little extreme. Almost half are due to unforseeable drug effects. But still, a good reason to doubt your doctor.
    • by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:11AM (#13103051) Journal
      Doing your own research is good. But what these articles fail to point out is sometimes "Medical Mistakes" are due to your doctor treating something very serious with a very affressive treatment. Imagine a disease that kills 8 out of 10 people within two years, but the treatment kills 3 out of 10 while extending the life of the other 10. Articles like this would lump those three into medical mistakes, but neglect to mention that five folks were spared.

      This article also fails to mention that the reason some causes of death dropped in the list is BECAUSE of medical care's improvements.

      Now, does this mean we don't try to improve medicine further to reduce the mistakes? Of course not. But articles like these seem to suggest that we don't visit our doctor. That is dangerous and irresponsible.
    • My bet is that all of the legit cases against doctors are because of doctors that are doctors for the money and not because they wanted to be doctors.

      People that are in careers just for the money has got to be the biggest cause of the lack of quality we see in almost everything today.
    • Treat with extreme skepticism any so-called "health" web site that also sells products. (Notice all the affiliate links with kickbacks.) is not a health resource, it's a business, and that's a major conflict of interest.
  • I think I have aspergers because I read about it on /.
  • The flip side (Score:2, Informative)

    by null etc. ( 524767 )
    I think it's important to look at the flip side, too. Doctors who are in their 50's learned medicine 30 years ago, and often haven't kept up to date on all the latest medical findings. For example, the advice I receive from my doctor for certain common illnesses is a bit outdated, and somewhat dangerous.
  • we actually have a jumpy user who calls/emails every time she hears about a new virus, gets an error message, sneezes, etc. we haven't heard much from her since upgrading her to xp. either everything is working or she's dead.

    paranoid + non-technical = headache.
  • Remedy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by savagedome ( 742194 )
    Meanwhile, some dubious theory from the Internet will be swallowed hook, line and sinker nine times out of 10.

    While the statement looks to be true on surface, a friend of mine had a life changing experience after reading a theory.

    He played basketball in college and had some knee problems that eventually prohibited him from continuing to play. He was getting physiotherapy done but it was only a temporary relief. The doctors that he went to basically said that he might have to live with that. So, out of
  • by krgallagher ( 743575 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:05AM (#13102986) Homepage
    "Meanwhile, some dubious theory from the Internet will be swallowed hook, line and sinker nine times out of 10."

    I agree. I have many relatives who are online but not really technology savvy. Not a month goes by that I do not get CC'ed on some ridiculous email. I always go look it up on Snopes [] and do a reply to all with a link the Snopes article discrediting it. The thing that really gets me though, is a couple of times a year I will get one of these from someone who knows better. When I call them on it, I usually get the same response, "Well I figured better safe than sorry." Some how they just do not understand that by forwarding unsubstantiated false information they are perpetuating the problem.

  • my doctor, at least.

    I went to him thinking I had angina. At 28. The symptoms: chest pain and dizziness. He told me I had pulled a chest muscle and had a wicked inner ear infection. And he told me I wasn't allowed to go look up my symptoms on-line anymore. And I agreed with him...any time I'd look at a medical site I'd get more and more nervous. Now that I don't I feel much better.
  • Feeling in Control (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shannon Love ( 705240 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:06AM (#13102999) Homepage
    Self-diagnosing makes people feel more in control of their health. People perceive doctors as authority figures who take control away from the patients. People do not perceive sources they find on their own as controlling (even though many of the sources do have their own agendas) so they adopt the source's explanation rather than the doctors.

    The desire to feel in control is such a powerful drive that people will trade concrete benefits like money or expert advice for the mere illusion of control.
  • That.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jayhawk88 ( 160512 ) <> on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:07AM (#13103001)
    ....and pharmaseutical companies are telling us every commercial break that things like heartburn, insomnia, and arthritis are threats to our very lives.
  • Having an aunt who died of Multiple Sclerosis constantly triggers a bit of anxiety in me every time I have a muscle spasm. I figured out long ago that I can't browse WebMD or read descriptions of MS anymore, because it gets me overly concerned and anxious.

    But reading web sites and articles about hypochondria, especially with the advent of tons of medical information at your fingertips, has helped me.

    The best quote I saw online about it was from a general practitioner, who had experience with patients com
  • I'm not sure what the point is. Sure, people read stuff and feel like they have it. The same thing has been happening to doctors for decades. Regular people too -- only in small batches. Now that there is more stuff for people to read, there is more stuff to believe. Assuming that doctors aren't some highly evolved lifeform from the planet Xerox, I think people will get along just fine, just like the docs.
    After all, isn't this really about education? I mean, do you really fight something like smoking by ma
  • Doctors (Score:4, Insightful)

    by coflow ( 519578 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:10AM (#13103028)
    I can't really empathize with doctors on this one. The last 4 or 5 times I've seen a doctor over probably the past 10 years, they have completely kept me in the dark with what's been wrong. I come in with congestion, or a cough, or a sore throat, and the result is always the same, they give me a new antibiotic, an inhaler, and some pseudophedrine.

    I end up going to web md or some other website to do research and deduce what my symptoms point to. It seems like doctors no longer take the time to assess symptoms and determine what is actually wrong, they just dispense a few prescriptions, sign some paperwork, and send the patient on their way. It's not wonder that people want to get more info than what the MD profession is offering.
  • by TooncesTheCat ( 900528 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:10AM (#13103032)
    I have been suffering with some pretty fucking bad digestion problems all my life. I have the hershey squirts alot and real bad cramps in my stomach. I went to the gastrointestinal doctor here in my home town for a endoscopy and colonoscopy. He diagnosed me with IBS syndrome and sent me on my marry way saying it was just a nervous stomach. After suffering for 4 more years of that crap I decided to try and figure out what the hell was wrong with me. I googled my symptoms and found my symptoms closely related to Celiacs Disease...Almost identical in everyway to the people with Celiacs of what they described. I went to another doctor the week after reading the Celiacs website and was diagnosed after another biopsy as having Celiacs. Only after using the web to help me find out my symptoms was I actually diagnosed properly. Google saved my bowels from a lifelong of shitting and pain :/
  • by WormholeFiend ( 674934 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:10AM (#13103036)
    to all my medical problems arrive by the hundreds in my inbox every day!
  • Does this mean that I'm not really addicted to pr0n? *phew*
  • I just hope that with all these evidence /. will create a "your health" section.
    With the carefull review of our dear editors and the amazing quality of stories submited I might simply stop seeing a doctor altogether.

    And for the hypochondriacs out there, all the dupes will make sure we don't miss one single disease we might have.

  • This is just another varient on Medical Student Syndrome [].

    In psychology it's so bad, due to the nature of people and the subject, that every Abnormal Psychology book I've seen, and the class I took, starts with a warning abouth the syndrome []; most psychological disorders are defined in rather normal terms, and at any moment, most of us have at least one symptom that shows up in the DSM. It's the confluence of multiple symptoms (usually) that persist and cause problems for the person that defines a true probl
  • Anxiety (Score:5, Funny)

    by quibbs0 ( 803278 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:13AM (#13103073)
    I'm quite a hypochondriac myself. My doctor told me a few years ago that I had General Anxiety Disorder. When I told my girlfriend at the time she asked me "How do you feel about having G.A.D.?"

    I responded, "Quite frankly it makes me a little nervous."

  • Wall Street Journal quotes a doctor: 'My impression is that people believe more of what they read than what I tell them. It seems that traditional Western medicine based on scientific evidence is less and less trusted by the general public. Meanwhile, some dubious theory from the Internet will be swallowed hook, line and sinker nine times out of 10.' "

    Why is this?

    Why do people fall for 419 Scams? Why do people *let* spyware onto their machines? Why do people let the government walk over their rights

  • Some treatment standards lag behind reality. Diabetics, for example, are coming to realize the benefits of tight blood glucose control in avoiding the long-term complications of the disease. Doctors, on average, are *way* behind the curve on this issue. If you go online and read up on the disease (one of the best mailing lists maintains a semi-official motto of "My body, my science project") enough, you may conclude you want to start shooting insulin *now* instead of a few years from now when you absolut
  • Depo Provera is one of those drugs that doctors tend to suggest that does more harm than good. It's a birth control shot but it has some very nasty side effects (which range from person to person of course). However, regardless if a doctor would recommend it, I would not simply because I knew someone who used it and that person ended up gaining 15lbs (from 110 to 135), and ended up being on her period 24/7 (very light) for MONTHS. Doctors should research their stuff as well, and not just trust a pharmace
  • I usually don't go to see a doctor until things are getting dire - my typical thought is "Oh, I'll feel better tomorrow or next week". Part of that is due to the state of Health Care in the US - waiting weeks or months to get a doctors apointment (yes, it happens here too not just in countries with socialized medicine - the difference being if I "Fake" being sicker on the phone I MIGHT get an earlier appointment), high copays and deductibles, high cost of Rx, etc. Sometimes seeing the doctor seems more tr
  • Trust is the reason. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ValentineMSmith ( 670074 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:26AM (#13103180)
    ...quotes a doctor: 'My impression is that people believe more of what they read than what I tell them. It seems that traditional Western medicine based on scientific evidence is less and less trusted by the general public. Meanwhile, some dubious theory from the Internet will be swallowed hook, line and sinker nine times out of 10.' "

    Well, the simple reason is that people don't trust their physicians anymore. Back in the Elder Days(tm) of Marcus Welby and so on, doctors took an interest in the health of their patients. A relationship was built over time. Finally, when the doc said, "You know, you need to go in and have surgery for this", a patient would do so without thinking twice because of the relationship and the longstanding trust between them.

    Now, due to the way that doctors have to practice medicine (if they don't want to lose their shirts), they don't have a choice. 15 minutes in and out. No time to get to know their patients, no time to listen to the little old lady that just needs someone to talk to, no time to do anything but write a prescription and go on to the next patient. Now, when a doctor says, "That article on the internet is full of crap, you need surgery," people ask, "Why should I trust you? I don't know you."

    If that doctor REALLY wants to know why people would believe an apocryphal story on the internet rather than him, he needs to look at the type of medicine he's practicing.

    Note: This is not to blame him. Generally, with the reimbursement rates he's getting from the insurance plans with which he is signed, he is very limited in the amount of time he can spend with a patient. But the point remains: Speaking for myself, if someone wants to practice medicine on me, I have to trust them first. They've got lots of patients, but I only have one body. And the piece of paper on the wall saying M.D. only goes so far in building that trust.

  • by Rick.C ( 626083 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:26AM (#13103188)
    Sign in a Doctor's Waiting Room

    "Patients are asked to not discuss or compare symptoms in the waiting room. It confuses the doctors."

  • Is it because they don't know your name without first looking on your chart?

    Am I supposed to be impressed when they spend less than 30 seconds on a diagnosis, and then run off to see their next patient? I suppose this allows them to see some HMO dictated requisite number of patients in a given day.

    The problem with the doctors of today is the same as the problem with programmers in the mid 90's, the field is loaded with hacks looking for money. When you find someone who's in it for the love of it, you've
  • Wonder why.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GoMMiX ( 748510 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:28AM (#13103203)
    My Father, 54, pays almost $400 a month for medical insurance with a $5,000.00 deductable.

    My Mother, 50 and a government employee, pays in excess of $500 per month for medical insurance.

    While my Mother has had extensive medical problems, my Father hasn't even had a cold in almost 20 years. Let alone been to the doctor for anything other then checkups and physicals.

    Please, tell me why I should trust a medical system that costs more then the lease on my fucking BMW?

    Insurance companies charge insane premiums because doctors and hospitals charge insane rates. Doctors and hospitals claim they charge insane rates because of malpractice suits, etc etc..

    But it all boils down to one simple fact: In the United States medical care is overpriced.

    My son was sick, in Rogers, Arkansas, and we waited FOUR HOURS in the emergency room for a TWO YEAR OLD CHILD to be cared for. Why? Because the doctors were all busy. With what? NO ONE ELSE WAS THERE FOR FOUR HOURS! How much did that cost? $800. $800 to sit there waiting for four hours to get 20 minutes with a doctor.

    More simply put: People don't trust you because you don't DESERVE to be trusted.

    Here's a fancy example of Doctors being the wonderful men that they are: When I was sixteen I was in a car accident. My back was broke in three places. It took me NINE MONTHS to find a doctor who would treat me. Multiple times I was told by doctors that they do not see patients whos injuries are the subject of current litigation. (IE because I was suing the woman who hit me going in excess of 100mph I was going to be refused medical treatment)

    I have no respect for Doctors. I think almost all of them are cowards, liars, and theives. It's no wonder why people have a hard time accepting a Doctors word for truth -- as all to often the Doctor is wrong; though no doubt I have yet to meet a Doctor who doesn't have a holier than thou "I can't be wrong I'm better than everyone else" attitude.

    In my opinion, Doctors do nothing but steal from the lower classes in a large orchestrated insurance scam. Doctors scam the insurance companies, insurance companies scam the middle and lower classes.

    Illegal immigrants all get free medical treatment and we all pay for it with higher taxes.

    It's just FUN ALL AROUND!
  • Flip side (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr_Silver ( 213637 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:29AM (#13103215)
    It is worth pointing out that there is a flip side which has happened a few times. This is when someone doesn't feel well, is told that they're fine and it's all in their mind, only to look it up on the web and find out that they really do have some rare disease.

    Another one (here in the UK) has been where someone is told that there is nothing that can be done for some problem only for them to find out using the web that something can be done about it (usually in another country).

    A good example is this story [] about a baby born with a deformed head who was wrongly told that nothing was wrong and to live with the deformity. Thankfully, in the next four months the baby will be fine.

    Not that I'm suggesting that all doctors get it wrong but once in a while the web has been a life-saver.

  • Munchausen Syndrome (Score:4, Informative)

    by pipingguy ( 566974 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:31AM (#13103239) []

    "Munchausen syndrome is a form of psychological disorder known as a factitious disorder (the term "Munchausen syndrome" is sometimes used, incorrectly, to refer to any form of factitious disorder). Sufferers mimic real diseases, presenting a great problem to themselves and their healthcare professionals. The disorder is named after a literary figure, Baron Munchausen, a real person who was portrayed in fiction as a famous teller of tall tales."
  • My doctor (Score:3, Insightful)

    by XNormal ( 8617 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:36AM (#13103288) Homepage
    My doctor freely admits that since medical information became accessible to anyone on the web his patients are often better informed about their specific problems than he is. Patients only need to focus on their specifc issues and are often highly motivated. The doctor still has the benefit of wider knowledge and more experience.

    I know that some doctors feel threatened by this but he actually likes it. He believes an open an cooperative approach can be beneficial for both doctors and patients.
  • by crovira ( 10242 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:40AM (#13103318) Homepage
    She'd watch any show with a doctor on it and she'd develop whatever illness they were describing.

    She blew her credibility and any sympathy factor right out of the water when she called her mother in a twist and wailed about having prostate cancer.

    Hypochondria is a hoot sometimes. :-)
  • by rumblin'rabbit ( 711865 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:49AM (#13103400) Journal
    Is it my imagination, or is mysticism and belief in half-baked theories on the rise?

    Granted, some B.S. seems to be slowly dying out - astrology and belief in space alien visitations, for example. But others seem absolutely rampant. We are awash in homeophathic medicine, claims of psychic powers, and on and on. And, yes, I include religion in this.

    I guess rationality and empiricism just aren't cool these days. Perhaps people mistake skepticism with closed mindedness. Or perhaps, deep down, they just don't care whether what they believe is true or not.

  • by Sun Rider ( 623563 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:52AM (#13103435)

    This is a sign of a much bigger problem, many people in the US cannot afford the cost of official medicine, they're trying to find less costly alternatives.

    In other countries with more or less socialized medical care (of widely varying levels of efficiency), doctors and transnational companies are trying to force the governments to have "American style" medicine, that is a carefully controlled supply of doctors, (high) prices set by medical associations, exclusive regions, constant effort to legally marginalize alternative medicine, profit-oriented control of your medical history, legally mandated medical procedures, and the creation of new categories of sicknesses that require new costly, patented medicine.

    So, maybe there is some reason in not fully trusting all doctor's advice and look for a second opinion.

  • by JordanH ( 75307 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @10:58AM (#13103505) Homepage Journal
    It seems that traditional Western medicine based on scientific evidence is less and less trusted by the general public.

    While this may be true, I don't know what's scientific about a typical Doctor's diagnosis. It's just practice of an Art, based on experience. Typically, a Doctor will not setup an experiment and often, they won't even run any kind of instrumented test, they'll just ask you what symptoms you have, make some notes and make a diagnosis.

  • Doctor Supply/Demand (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @11:16AM (#13103677) Homepage Journal
    Maybe if the American Medical Association and its industry didn't keep prices artificially inflated by restricting the supply of doctors, while demand explodes, doctors would be seen as respected members of the community, rather than inaccessible luxuries.

    I was in the pre-med track for 10 years, starting in junior high school, and the #1 lesson for everyone is that the system is designed to "weed out" most of the people who want to become doctors. The weeding isn't done on the basis of one's compassion, or one's committment to medical science, or even to one's skill at medical practice. In fact, those essential criteria aren't even in the game until college, or even med school. Along the way, it's just pure competition, mostly measuring how much abuse people will stand, from the program and from each other, before they quit. The system lets people study subjects that get relatively easier grades than do sciences, so they are more competitive numerically. In fact, practically everything that aspiring doctors must do to get into med school selects for people who just want to make a lot of money, are indifferent to the suffering of others (or who relish it), who discard curiosity and compassion in favor of absolute focus on the bottom line: protecting their time and money from any threat, including patients.

    Sure, doctors have to deal with insurance (patient and malpractice, at each end) and other dehumanizing bureaucracies when they start to practice. But by then they're in the doctor supply, so it's only the prospect of that that inhibits "people people" from staying in the game. Not only does the med school track select for people ill suited to be "caregivers" (rather than mechanics or drug pushers), it just artificially reduces the supply of people trained to help other people's medical conditions. And of course our high-stress, high-pollution, bad-diet lives create ever more medical problems to treat. The combination supply/demand problem means not enough doctors to treat too many patients, driving up prices, and driving a wedge between the people who need some of the utmost intimacy to succeed in their relationship.

    Doctors make a lot of money. Pharma and insurance companies make even more. It's practically all profit: the costs of running a doctor's practice are large only when counting their insurance, which is of course driven up by the supply/demand crisis. We should extract enough of those profits, especially from insurance and pharma companies, to double or triple the number of doctors. We should expand medical schools across the country. Require the top 20% of schools, which depend on public subsidies for their research (which they then sell for profit), to double the number of graduates they produce. We have at least that many people who want to be doctors, including foreigners who need retraining/recertification, that could change the supply picture within 5-10 years. And we should require every med student who receives government subsidies to relocate to an underserved community for at least as long as they were paid to go to school - usually at least 7 years. If they're going to cash in on socialist financing of their careers, the people should get what we pay for: more doctors for more people, not more golfers at Boston golf courses.
  • That's because... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eno2001 ( 527078 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:01PM (#13104619) Homepage Journal
    ...a lot of doctors and pharmaceutical corporations are no longer operating with the patient's best interests at heart. They are soley driven by money and they are overprescribing certain profitable meds. Look at the whole Celebrex fiasco. The company knew that Celebrex caused problems, but decided that it was better to make money even if people died.

    We also have a massive epidemic of medical prescriptions for supposed A.D.D. kids. Did anyone ever stop and think that the A.D.D. kids might just be... I don't know... normal bored kids? I used to day dream in class a lot because the subject matter sucked. But I wasn't sitting there totally spaced even though it looked it. I was doing circuit design in my head for various projects (robots to kill the school bullies, bombs to blow up teacher's cars that I didn't like, remote display systems so that I could gain access to computer systems remotely during dull history tests, etc...). Or when I was wandering all over the place during basketball games in gym class... that wasn't A.D.D. That was just that I hate sports and find competition to be an abrasive characteristic. Cooperative games, I was all into. (You know. The thing like taking the parachute and throwing it up as a group and huddling underneath it and then throwing it up again and siting outside of it. Now that's my idea of fun sports.)

    Then we have the problem of big pharma pushing antibiotics without warning people that they should be replenishing their G.I. tract with probiotics lest other horrific diseases infest your body. I had a very personal experience with this. Horrible sinus infections every year since my teens. So... the cure? Antibiotics. Sure I was happy and I got better, but I didn't realize the damage that was being done. Every year the sinus infections got incrementally worse and I had to take longer and longer course of antibiotics. Finally when I was in my late 20s, I was prescribed a new (and very dangerous) antibiotic in the Quinolone family. It was called Levaquin. After the first few days of taking it, I had unbelievable depression. I told my doctor that I thought it might be caused by the Levaquin even though it makes no scientific sense since antibiotics are not psychoactive. He agreed and said, just keep taking them. I did, and it just got worse and worse. After the 14 days, it took me about two or three months to start feeling normal again.

    The next year, I had a really bad infection but didn't want to feel that horrible depression again. I did some searches on the net and discovered that other people were reporting depression caused by Levaquin in various forums. So I realized I wasn't alone. Unfortunately, I still had the sinus infection and still wound up taking antibiotics, but I was able to tell my doctor to skip the Levaquin. (Levaquin is being pushed hard right now because it supposedly has fewer side effects than other antibiotics) This time around, I got a horrible skin rash that was extremely uncomfortable. Again 10-14 days of antibiotics. But this time two weeks after the course ended, the sinus infection came back. So I was on the meds again for another 14 day course. An entire summer ruined.

    The next year, same thing... Horrible sinus infection even worse than the previous year. I wound up doing still more reseearch on the net and found some information on systemic yeast infections. The symptoms were identical to mine and the root cause in many cases appears to be antibiotics. Even more research revealed that the company that makes Levaquin finally acknowledged that Levaquin can cause depression and suicidal thoughts in "a small number" of patients. Sorry, but ANY number of people with depression or suicidal thought is too large.

    I had experienced the suicidal thoughts myself, but it's not connected to depression. It's actually a lot like a safety mechanism gets switched off in the brain and you forget very basic things you should be aware of to keep safe. I almost took a drill to my head because

Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. -- Christopher Lascl