The Wisdom Tooth: Google Can(t) Diagnose Me

The number of people who use the Internet as their first doctor is on the rise and it’s not a healthy trend

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There’s a saying in Gujarati, “AA toh MBA che!” MBA (Mane Badhu Avde) means ‘I Know Everything’. We come across a lot of such people in our lives.

In today’s technologically advanced world there are a lot of such MBAs around us. And where do they get their degree from? Google, of course. Apparently, Google has all the answers to all the questions we have, and even to the ones we don’t. We can learn to tie a tie or make tea or find the route to our destination. But is Google right all the time? Or rather, are we able to make proper sense of Google each time? Does your tea actually taste like tea? Is your tie the correct length? And, how many of us have got lost in spite of using Google maps?

Doctors experience the same problem. Patients Google their medical problems and find a solution on their own. But that’s where the problem really starts. Just because you know to use Google doesn’t mean you are a doctor. This is like calling yourself a photographer because you have a DSLR camera.

Everyone who searches stuff online, for example: stomach pain, stops at page one. You get easy diagnoses like constipation, diarrhea, and so on. If you go beyond page one, you may get to see internal bleeding, cancer, stones etc. Either one is not good. Page one is what you hope you have and page two and beyond is too horrible to think about. Who is supposed to assuage your fear? Why, the doctor, of course.

There are also apps that let you speak to a medical professional miles away, who give you a diagnosis. But are they accurate? Will the doctor be able to actually feel the tenderness in the region of pain? Will he be sure of his diagnosis? No, according to me.

We also have a lot of memes in our medical profession:

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So if you don’t want to get in trouble, please don’t Google your medical issues, because while it may be right sometimes, things go horribly wrong when they are not.

The Wisdom Tooth is a fortnightly column by Neil U. Mitra. Mitra is a practising dentist in Mumbai. He has his clinic at Bandra where he takes time out to write for us after he finishes his day’s work. You can reach him at mitrasdentalspeciality@gmail.com

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