Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - Doctor visits can be time consuming and expensive, which is why more and more people are turning to the internet when illness strikes.
According to the Wall Street Journal, 40 percent of people use the internet to symptom surf before they make an appointment.
Nearly a quarter skip the doctor’s office altogether and diagnose themselves.
Physicians say the web can be a useful tool, but it should not be used as a substitute for a doctor’s opinion.
“It’s a great starting point that being said it’s not always correct. Anybody can post anything on the internet especially these blogs that are out there that can give medical advice that may not be accurate,” said Dr. Lou Bonavita of CNY Family Care.
Bonavita says he routinely sees patients who arrive with a list of symptoms of an illness they think they have only to find out that they were wrong.
“There are many different diseases that may mimic or have the same symptoms and unless you see a physician who is experienced with those diagnoses you may be going down the wrong path,” Bonavita said.
Some sites that doctors say can be used safely include:
But doctors stress that sites promising to treat a medical condition should be used only with an abundance of caution.
“Often times these products aren't FDA approved they have not been researched and their safety is quite questionable,” Bonavita said.