Thursday, November 19, 2009

Self Diagnosis: Why you should tell your doctor what the diagnosis is

Ever look up your symptoms on the internet? Ever have a friend diagnose you with something they have had previously?

With the internet today more and more people are taking initiative to diagnose themselves.  New research shows there is some merit in telling your doctor what you believe you may have. The British Medical Journal recently published an article discussing the new phenomenon of “Self Diagnosis” or “Self Labeling”.

Reports have been made that “Self Diagnosis” can initiate a correct finding in 18% of consultations. Furthermore, the “presenting complaint” of a patient may guide the diagnosing process 70% of the time. This indicates the importance of a patient communication to their doctor. If you have multiple symptoms a diagnosis may be established by your initial complaint.

Conditions accurately diagnosed by self labeling: Urinary tract infections, recurrent uveitis, schistosomiasis and head lice.

However, don't over estimate the power of self diagnosis. Wrongful incidence of self diagnosis can occur when treatment is initiated by the patient before consulting their doctor. Women who purchase over the counter antifungal treatment with the suspicion of having an infection are a great example.  A high percentage of these women actually have a bacterial form of infection not fungal.

In addition, self diagnosis can be at times very unsafe. Cases have been reported of a heart attack being mistaken as indigestion and rectal bleeding thought to be due to haemorrhoids only to be discovered as colon cancer.

Conditions often misdiagnosed by self labeling: pregnancy, yeast infections and scabies.

So remember always consult a health professional with your problems but don’t be afraid to give them some pointers.  Dr. Wayne Button BSc, D.C


Ryan, M. (1979). USSR letter: Self-diagnosis. BMJ, 2 (6196), 979-980 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.2.6196.979

1 comment:

  1. Self examination and self diagnosis will definitely help. Thanks for taking time to write it.