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14 Health Signs You Should Never Ignore, from SELF

By , SparkPeople Blogger
This season's hottest Grey's Anatomy plotline, in which Dr. Izzy Stevens' hallucinations of her dead fiancé turn out to be caused by melanoma that spread to her brain and other organs, has surely unnerved more than one fan. Is this mole troublesome? Should I have it checked out?
Sometimes it's tough to decide whether to take a health problem seriously in this post-Internet world. Are we being hypochondriacs? Are we ignoring a potentially serious health issue?

With self-diagnosis just a click away, we often think we can take out health into our own hands. SELF magazine this month wrote a great story about health signs we shouldn't ignore.

"Dry lips or swollen fingers could spell trouble—SELF helps decode subtle signals of potentially serious health problems. Instant at-home health checks can spot early signs of diabetes or iron deficiency just by the color of your fingernails. Dark under-eye circles could suggest an allergic reaction, or white patches in your mouth corners could indicate a yeast infection."

Read more about health signs you shouldn't ignore in this month's issue of SELF, on newsstands now.

Do you, despite doctors advice to avoid it, try to diagnose yourself on the Internet?

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I self diagnose everything (including a burst blood vessel and sprained ankle" except for my moles and my yearly female check up. My mom had skin cancer at the age of 26 so I go in at least once a year so they can make sure everyone is good. It also helps to take pictures of anything you suspect so you can see if it changes over the course of a year. Report
I too research symptoms on the net before going to the Doctor. It helps you communicate with the Doctor more efficiently. It pays to be your own advocate. I typical Doctor may see hundreds or possibly more patients in a week. They don’t have a lot of time for one-on-one with individual people. You must be educated about your own health. Report
I must admit that if i'm having symptoms, I'll check out the internet before I go see the doc. Report
Thanks for the link, that was a very informative article! Report
The was a great article. If anything , it points out the importance of knowing your body and knowing when something is not right.
The internet is a great tool but a visit with a good physician can either confirm your suspicions or put your mind at ease. Knowledge is power and knowing the questions to ask....certainly will give you more information. Being an informed consumer of healthcare, opens dialogue and allows you to be a part of the diagnosis or cure. Gives them a bit of control where sometimes there is none. Report
I often use the internet for myself and my family - before the internet I used a Family Medical Guide. I do have insurance but it used for real medical issues not ones that can be treated with homepathy or natural measures. Most doctors will admit that they too have too have to take an educated guess. Recently I had chest pains - I beleived them to be a combination of stress and heartburn but because it was a pain I have never had before I did call my doctor. After 2 days in the hospital and tests and a nuclear test that I did not want we came to the conclusion that my diagnosis was right. It is always best to weigh on the side of caution when you are unsure.... However you do know your body better than anyone it has been with you all of your life, so checking out symptoms on the internet is not an evil thing. It can save your life. I personally find that too many doctors today will give a prescription for just about anything - even that ingrown toenail someone wrote about. So I do my best to avoid that. :-)
I am happy to say that with my doctor's approval I weaned myself off of all meds and went the natural route through nutrition, supplements, and moderate exercise. Now I only see him for my regular checkups once every two years, which I need to do for my business.
The internet can be very helpful with questions to present to your doctor as well, as putting your symptoms into words. Report
I love to try to self diagnois but am a realist in that my doctor still knows best. It does help to go in better informed though. Report
Interesting article. Something I learned a while back while battling endometriosis and fibroids. I craved ice 24/7! I would wake up in the middle of the night to crunch on ice, I couldn't get enough! I knew something was wrong because I'm not an ice eater. The doctor did lab work and found I was anemic. He said a symptom of anemia is constant ice eating. So, if you find yourself eating an excessive amount of ice it might be a good idea to have some blood work done. Just thought I'd share that! Report
Yes, I have to admit sometimes I've been known to use the internet to try and diagnose myself Report
Since I can comprehend what I read, I just as soon do research on my own, THEN go see a doctor. Everytime I've done this, the doc agreed with my diagnosis. :o) They're still learning and I know more about my body than a doctor does, right? Report
if I think it's something important or it's something that scares me, I go to the doctor. it's usually nothing and I'm usually paranoid though so sometimes I look up my symptoms online but it's not often. Report
The internet medical sites are very good for educating yourself and checking to see if your symptoms need further care. When I was in Nursing school they taught us NOT to be sure we had a disease or illness just because we had some of the symptoms of whatever we were studying. That happens a lot in medical professional students. Report
Nope! Report
I search for possible outcomes online before going to the doctor. I want to know if it is a serious medical issue or if I am blowing it up. Report
I find physiology facinating and the internet is just one of many sources I use for information. The more I understand how my body works (or doesn't as the case may be) the more I am able to make appropriate decisions and communicate effectively with medical personnel. It is a win/win situation. Report
I use the internet as a source to keep both myself & my doctor up-to-date on ways to alleviate my mobility challenges. It's a learning process for each of us! Report
I don't use the internet to diagnose but I do use it to educate myself about different conditions and medications. I think it's important to learn as much as possible about what's going on with my body. I have learned that when I go to the doctor I have to be my own advocate. Report
I have no health insurance and a low paying job. Last summer while I had some insurance, I went to the doctor and had some testing done. The biggest issue was that my thyroid levels are high and I had a build up in my uterine lining. They needed to do further testing to figure out which was causing the other and was the uterine buildup harmless...needless to say I ran out of insurance before gaining answers. Report
I have awesome insurance, so I don't hesitate going to the doctor. Report
When in January my son told me he had a swollen Testicle, I got on the internet and began researching what it could be. The worst was Testicular Cancer, which after seeing a GP, we who said it wasn't the "other things", the Urologist read the Ultrasound and the next day he had surgery. The Internet gave us a LOT of information, so when we did hear "CANCER" we knew what the doctor was talking about, with cells, etc. It was an emotional moment, and if we hadn't already read, we wouldn't have understood him. After we came home, we looked up the rest and it has been so helpful in the Chemotherapy to understand what is happening. I go into the doctor with a list of questions, and I write down what he says. Report
I am not a hypochondriac and am not quick to run to the doctor. Yes, I will look up my symptoms on the internet before running to the doctor. I don't have insurance and money is too precious to spend on needless doctor visits. For example, if I have an ingrown toenail, I will check out on line what I can do at home before a doctor visit. However, if a symptom persists, is severe, or seems serious, I do not hesitate to visit the doctor. Report
I used to use the Internet to check out symptoms, but I found that it did nothing but make me worry---I'm an undiagnosed hypochondriac. ;) I once read an article about a condition on the internet and called my doctor's office panicking because I had a 0.00003 percent chance of developing the problem. I'm fairly certain my doctor thought I was bonkers. ;)

I also don't watch "medical" shows--real or fictional, and I stay away from most women-oriented magazines because they tend to feature a "disease of the week/month," which I'm convinced I have after I watch the show or read the article.

I started taking an antidepressant about two years ago, and I have found that I worry significantly less about every little bump, bruise, spot, whatever since then. I also don't have the desire to google every symptom, illness, etc. I still, however, practice some avoidance techniques (not watching "Grey's Anatomy" or reading "Women's Day") because there's no need to stress myself out. Report
Yes, I do. Actually, most of the time I get reassured from what I read. Report
My Dr. doesn't disagree with me using the web, he says it can be a good source to help me explain the diagnosis. I don't use it to diagnose myself, that is what I pay him for but it makes it so when he tells me xx is wrong with you, I can look it up so I know what I am dealing with. I used it a lot when dealing with my Mom's Dr.'s because her specialist was very hard to understand. I always had him write it down and I would look it up when we got home. Report
Yep, love the Symptom Tracker on Health Living, not to mention their Drug Interaction Checker! its saved my Life (literally). Report
I believe the internet helps me decide whether particular symptoms are serious enough to warrant going to the doctor. It is expensive, especially for my fiance who has a $200 deductible and his son who has no insurance. I have NEVER gone to the doctor for something I was complaining about and gotten anything except a pat on the head and orders to rest and take aspirin. Even with ongoing chronic neck pain that I have, my doctor just tells me to exercise and that she can't do anything about it unless I want surgery (which I'm trying to avoid). So the doctors really haven't helped me with anything. I basically have to help myself. Report
Very interesting article. Makes one think alot though. For example oh no maybe I have that!!! Report
Where I live one insurance company has come up with a way to "visit" the doctor over the internet. Not sure if I'm a fan of that one either, but my sister-in-law works for that company, so she will keep me informed of how it goes. Interesting....scary too. Report
No, I don't use the Internet to self-diagnose myself. I have used it to find information, though. For example, during my annual exam in April 2006, when my doctor asked me to consider gastric bypass surgery, I spent a year researching it, talking to others who'd had it, and thinking about it. At my next annual exam (April 2007), I asked her for a referral, and then used the Internet to research the medical group she recommended (as well as a few others).

Since having the surgery, I have many fewer doctor appointments than in the past. I no longer have sleep apnea (bye, bye, Dr. Pulmonologist!), hypertension (bye, bye visits to check my blood pressure!), pre-diabetes, or high cholesterol. I am following my gastroenterologist's five-year plan, which means I need blood drawn regularly to check my cholesterol, triglycerides, vitamin levels, and a host of other functions, but I'll gladly submit to the needle to have proof that I continue to lead a healthy life.

I haven't had the flu, a cold, or any other illness in the 17 months since my bypass. I believe healthy living really does improve your quality of life! Report
Diagnose myself on the internet? No way. If my doctor tells me I have something new that I didn't have before, and I want to learn more about it, I'll check out Mayo or Harvard Health ... and if I read anything there that brings up questions or worries, I note them down and ask on my next visit or by phone.

The article is a good one in terms of alerting us to be more aware of our bodies and signs of possible illness, but again ... you need to emphasize the word MIGHT ... if I had any such symptoms, I'd point them out to my dr. and let her decide. Report
without health insurance, I diagnose myself on the internet a LOT. I don't have the money to check out every little bump and cut. Report
Yes, unfortunately. I rarely go to the dr. It is really hard to tell if the reason you want to go is valid or not. One of my goals this year is to go to the dr and make sure I know exactly where I stand with my health. Report
i like going to the doctors informed, so if i have questions i will at least start close to the same page as the doctor. this makes what ever they say make better sence. it doesn't hurt to have a little knowledge. Report
I am 58 and 65 pounds up from where I want to be. I have had more surgeries in the last 3 years than I care to think about. However, I was feeling tired, sensitive to cold, and a bunch of other odd symptoms that had nothing to do with any of my surgeries. Went on the web, found out that what I might have is an underactive thyroid. Saw an endocronologist and yeppers that is what it is, not only that, my thyroid is enlarged and has nodules which they are monitoring. Still getting my thyroid meds adjusted. Turns out many women who have complete hysterectomies can develop underactive thyroids. Report
My husband is a physician, so I have a resource right there. I find it is helpful for me to come from my regular doc and discuss what he said with my husband for more in-depth answers. No matter how much time a doctor can spend with you, many questions come up after the visit, and that is often what the internet can help with...common questions. Report
I have to agree with Tazmomsgol. Had I not researched symptoms I would have walked away from my prior physician's office with a statin for high cholesterol, an anti-depressant for depression, and the standard recommendation to get more exercise and eat less. None of those recommendations/prescriptions would have solved my real problems. I am a proactive patient who does acknowledge the years of training a doctor goes through but when all is said and done, it's my life and my health. I have to be ultimately responsible for its care.

"After several doctors told me that my physical symptoms were from being "in-the-childbearing years, "in-your-head" or they just "can´t find anything wrong so here´s a prescription for a sedative", I decided to research before I asked for their help. I discovered that I was only going to the dr. so that he/she could confirm MY diagnosis and prescribe appropriate meds!" Report
I use the internet for it's intended purpose. To inform. I think trying to diagnose yourself is risky because you could miss something fatal. Report
I rarely get sick enough to consider going to a doctor. I do not attempt to diagnose myself, but do look up meds, conditions, etc to get more information. Report
Great blog thanks Report
I don't use the internet to diagnose, but I do use it to get information. When my brother was diagnosed with ALS I looked it up so I would understand more about the disease. When the doctor told me I needed a tilt table test, I looked that up so I would know what to expect. My mother's philosophy was "what you don't know, won't worry you" but I'm just the opposite. What I don't know does frighten me and what I can find out helps me conquer fear. Report
Two years ago I was diagnosed with stage 3b nonsmall cell lung cancer. My PCP (one of a group my ins covered) wouldn't even speak to me about my CT scan results. I knew what area was concerning the doc & looked it up on the internet. I knew it was probably cancer. I ended up picking up my scans & reading the report myself, & yes, it appeared to be malignant. By the time a final diagnosis was given, after extensive testing, I knew more about lung cancer than I ever wanted to know. Shortly after starting treatment, I quit researching because the outlook was so bleak. The 5 year survival rate for me was about 14%. At first I told myself I was reading old material, but then I realized it was new data. I had become very depressed & knew I wouldn't have a chance to win my battle if I didn't stay positive, & if I was going to lose my battle, I wasn't going to spend the end of my life being terrified of how little time I had left.

I guess my point is, it's great to have info available, but at a certain point, we need to let the doctors take over. Yes, I investigated the chemo drugs I took, & their success rates. I checked on the anti nausea drugs etc. I started feeling better about my chances though, after I decided I was well informed & no longer needed to obsess. There are still things I look up, but I rarely read anything about lung cancer because those mortality rates still bother me, even though I really believe I'm cured. Report
Accurate online information is essential in these days of reduced health insurance. Our insurance has such a high deductible it would be extremely foolish of me to run to the drs every time I had a question. Especially since one visit generally leads to bloodwork, CT scans, etc. All of which we pay for in FULL! Report
I firmly believe that it is prudent for all of us to be better informed about our health, but we still must exercise caution. One symption can be indictative of many ailments, conditions etc. You need to develop a "partner" relationship where you can discuss your symptons with your doctor. Difficult in this day and age, but none the less important. Report
Awesome article. I will share this one with my friends!!! Report
Being in tuned to your body is important. I believe knowledge is power and googling and using web MD provide information so that you can ask you doctor questions. Diagnosing from what you read online leaves you open for hysteria. Follow up with a licensed physician, if you suspect something is "off", is the most essential part of the equation.
Great article!!! Report
A good friend of mine went to the doctor with a variety of symtoms. Tests were done with no diagnosis resulting. The doctor was stymied. Joe researched his symptoms online and found that they were all consistent with cancer of the kidney. He took his findings back to his doctor who then took a different tack and ordered more tests. The diagnosis: kidney cancer.The cancer was determined to be confined to one kidney which was removed. Joe is now cancer-free, symptom free and has not had to have any follow up treatments. Thank God for doctors, but no one has more at stake when it comes to our health than we ourselves. Find out whatever you can wherever you can. Report
Great post and thanks for the link. I try not to diagnose on line, but I do research before and after visiting the doc. I like to be armed.... Report
I visit the doc twice a year for diabetes bloodwork and my mammogram and pap test. Anything comes up between visits I will research on the web, then make an appointment if symptoms warrent it. I have friends who call the doc for everything and end up going in and paying for an office call when nothing is seriously wrong with them. I will always look up any meds the doc perscribes or samples she hands me. Report
I visit the doc twice a year for diabetes bloodwork and my mammogram and pap test. Anything comes up between visits I will research on the web, then make an appointment if symptoms warrent it. I have friends who call the doc for everything and end up going in and paying for an office call when nothing is seriously wrong with them. I will always look up any meds the doc perscribes or samples she hands me. Report
I find if i start looking symptoms up on the computer I scare myself more than anything else, I go to drs. first then may check things online Report
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