Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Hi-Tech Hypochondriac

When I have some strange ailment I'm obsessing over, it's hard not to research it online and further obsess. But the cyberspace pathway to enlightenment is fraught with self-made doctors and misinformation. Sure, you may be able to get a bit of helpful information, but what exactly do you trust? In addition, it's easy to see your situation as much more dire than it really is.

For example, I'm just getting over a strange allergic reaction to some earrings that turned into an ear piercing infection. After it was bothering me for more than a few days, I went online and googled "ear piercing infections" to figure out if I should go to the doctor or just take care of it myself. This article freaked me out, especially this part:

"I
nfections are serious. You can loose body parts if left untreated. If it spreads to your blood stream you could die. Go see a doctor the minute that your muscles become sore, your
glands are swollen, or you get red streaks."

And my gland under my left ear was swollen. I thought I had let it go too far! Woe is me- I shall die a painful death and lose my ears due to costume jewelry, I thought to myself in a moment of dramatic hypochondria. While this encouraged me to go to the doctor, which was good because I received antibiotics, I really should have paid attention to the top of that article that said "The How-To Manual That Anyone Can Write or Edit." Who was this supposed expert on ear piercing infections? Probably not a doctor. The sea salt and hot water thing only made the rash on my ears spread. And reading the article only made me more stressed out about a fairly minor ailment. Perhaps if I hadn't freaked out about the gravity of my ear infection, the healing process would have gone more quickly.

So, remember, dear friends, to take things you read online regarding your health with a grain of salt. But not necessarily sea salt.

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