Date Published: 23rd June 2016

If you wake up feeling a bit unwell, chances are your first port of call is to Google your symptoms, not ring your local GP.

Research has shown that many of us turn to the Internet to diagnose our mystery illnesses, with millions of Google searchs each day are related to medical symptoms. For those well versed in the practice of panic-Googling our ailments, the range of results is enough to turn the most rational human into a raging hypochondriac. Luckily for ill people everywhere, Google has announced a new health symptom checker that claims it gives you medically accurate information.

For instance, if you search Google for “headache”, the health symptom checker will it shows you a list of possible conditions you may be suffering from such as “migraine,” “tension headache,” “sinusitis,” and “common cold”. It will also give you some home treatment options and tell you if you should see a doctor.

The introduction of the checker means that results will be shown as a summary at the top of Google, so curious-Googlers won’t have you trawl through various articles and self-diagnose their potential condition based on the results. The results will come from answers given from a team of professional doctors and experts at Harvard, so you’ll know your diagnosis is a bit more accurate than likened your symptoms to that of a stranger on a forum.

The existing search technology used by Google means that the health checker could learn about you over time. As a result, users may eventually be able to learn what symptoms they are checking for regularly and whether they mean something important when analysed together.  It would also become more accurate based on what it already knows about you, such as by differing its response based on your location.

Obviously, we’re not suggesting that Google could or should replace your doctor, but it does means  your self-diagnoses are likely to be more accurate than before, and can point you to a doctor when required.

Currently the feature is only available in the US, but there are plans to extend it to other countries and in other languages in the future.


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