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Dr. Google Is In; Sanity Is Out

Doctor Knows Best

The modern doctor-patient relationship is evolving. The traditional view of the doctor as the source of all medical information is long gone, and patients are taking time to educate themselves and be proactive about their health. While this is a very good thing in many regards, don't downplay the importance of years in the trenches.
While taking time to educate yourself and do your own research is wonderful, nothing beats experience. Healthcare providers, even new ones, have a great deal of experience, obtained through years of training and, after that, years of work. In addition, they have the capability to order blood tests, X-rays, and any other tests or procedures that need to be done to rule out serious problems. In many situations, no amount of study or Internet research can bring the same amount of relief and reassurance as a simple blood test.

Some Sane Advice

In general, it is not a good idea to research specific symptoms, especially for common symptoms, and especially if you have no way to differentiate between serious and not-so-serious causes. For instance, if you look up headaches in children, you'll find all sorts of possible causes, including many very scary ones, such as spinal meningitis or brain tumors. It's far more likely that your kid just has a tension headache. Step back, get some perspective, and just look at your child. Does he or she seem to be in good health generally? What is your gut reaction? If you still feel like you need some reassurance, call your child's pediatrician.
The Internet certainly has a very valuable role in the world of health information. In particular, it really shines after a patient receives a diagnosis, helping to provide limitless amounts of information. But the Internet fails miserably as a diagnostic resource, particularly in the hands of the inexperienced.
So next time your child comes down with a fever, looks a little pale, or has a funny rash, take this advice: If you're really worried, see a doctor. Otherwise, save yourself the time and stress, and just step away from the computer.
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