This time of year, the flu is a hot search topic online. But should people be matching their symptoms on the web instead of getting checked by a doctor?
A new study shows that 35 percent of American adults try to self diagnose themselves online.
According to Pew Research, when asked if the information found online led them to think they needed the attention of a medical professional, 46 percent of online diagnosers say that was the case.
Thirty-eight percent of online diagnosers say it was something they could take care of at home, and 11 percent say it was both or in-between.
"People look at the internet for their loved ones, their fathers, their mothers, their children. It is not uncommon to see printouts now. It happens multiple times a day that we see someone who's researched online," said Dr. Greg Sweat, with the Shawnee Mission Medical Center.
And when it comes to influenza, Sweat says the web and some rest may be all someone needs.
"If you're pretty healthy, young and you are not over the age of 65 or your child is older than the age of 5, you can pretty much do it at home ... self diagnose and stay at home," he said.
According to the study, 77 percent of the online health seekers say they began at a search engine such as Google, Bing or Yahoo.
Another 13 percent say they began at a site that specializes in health information, like WebMD.
Just 2 percent say they started their research at a more general site like Wikipedia and an additional 1 percent say they started at a social network site like Facebook.
Online searches usually put people on the right track when it comes to common illnesses, Sweat says.
But other times, Sweat says, people will come in with the most bizarre self-diagnosed illness that doctors rarely see.
"They think they've got, when in actuality they really don't have anything. They just may not be sleeping well," he said.
In any case, researching or trying to self-diagnose can just lead to self education.
"The more educated a patient is, the better it is. The better it is for all of us," Sweat said.
Pew Research surveyed 3,014 adults in the study by phone.
Their findings also found that women are more likely than men to go online to figure out a possible diagnosis.
Other groups that also have a high likelihood of doing so include younger people, white adults, those who live in households earning $75,000 or more, and those with a college degree or advanced degrees, the report states.
"It is important to note what these findings mean – and what they don't mean. Historically, people have always tried to answer their health questions at home and made personal choices about whether and when to consult a clinician," the authors noted in the report.
The study confirmed that when it came to serious health problems, people's No. 1 choice for care was logging off and going to the doctor.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
Do you self-diagnose before seeing a doctor?
Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:
Wednesday, April 23 2014 8:20 AM EDT2014-04-23 12:20:28 GMT
The family of a little boy paralyzed after a gas station shooting that killed his father has added a stranger to the ranks of their family because of what she did for the 10-year-old boy. The woman doesn'tMore >
The family of a little boy paralyzed after a gas station shooting that killed his father has added a stranger to the ranks of their family because of what she did for the 10-year-old boy.More >
Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:54 AM EDT2014-04-23 13:54:24 GMT
A family is grieving, but shock and loss for words came when hearing the driver that killed at Northland father was drunk, police say. Court records show 20-year-old Joseph C. Surratt, who caused theMore >
A family is grieving, but shock and loss for words came when hearing the driver that killed at Northland father was drunk, police say.More >
Wednesday, April 23 2014 4:44 PM EDT2014-04-23 20:44:53 GMT
Nearly a year-and-a-half after it went up in flames in a deadly explosion, the owners of JJ's Restaurant say they have plans to reopen.Jimmy Frantze said he has signed a lease for a lobby level space inMore >
Nearly a year-and-a-half after it went up in flames in a deadly explosion, the owners of JJ's Restaurant say they have plans to reopen.More >
Wednesday, April 23 2014 5:37 PM EDT2014-04-23 21:37:40 GMT
Firefighters are battling a fire at in an exterior recycling storage area.The fire broke out about 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Deffenbaugh Recycling Center, 2404 South 88th St.There are no reports of injuries.KCTV5More >
Firefighters are battling a fire at an exterior recycling storage area.More >
Wednesday, April 23 2014 5:45 PM EDT2014-04-23 21:45:52 GMT
A Kansas judge has granted a request to formally change the name of the soldier convicted of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks from Bradley Edward Manning to Chelsea Elizabeth Manning. The formerMore >
A Kansas judge has granted a request to formally change the name of the soldier convicted of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks from Bradley Edward Manning to Chelsea Elizabeth Manning.More >