Women tend to do their research when it comes to their health: Forty percent of women said that they'd looked online to diagnose a medical condition—compared with 30 percent of men, according to a 2013 report from the Pew Research Center
. And 55 percent followed up with a medical professional. That said, diagnosing yourself without a doctor's opinion could create unnecessary stress and anxiety. "I once had a young woman walk in with a 2-foot thick stack of papers she'd printed out and tell me that she was positive she had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma," says Holly Phillips, MD, an internist in New York and medical correspondent for CBS News. "She'd even decided on which treatments she wanted to pursue." A simple physical revealed that she was in fine health.
What you can do:
Sometimes, the real problem is relying on a site with inaccurate or alarmist information. If you have a concern ahead of an appointment, start with websites run by the government (like nih.gov), universities or large academic health centers, since they're the most likely to be science-backed and evidence-based, says Shakuntala Kothari, MD, a primary care physician at Cleveland Clinic.