Diagnosing Yourself: To WebMD Or Not To WebMD


We’ve all been there before. You come down with some pretty basic symptoms…you’ve had frequent headaches the past couple of days, a decently stuffed up nose, and for whatever reason your gums are killing you. You do what every curious, masochistic human being would do and head to the internet for some good old WebMD-ing. An hour later you’re arranging the details for your funeral because in your first ten minutes of browsing you’ve discovered that you’re likely battling mouth cancer, an abscessed tooth or gum, a brain tumor, or some other disgusting yet terrifying disease you’ve never heard of before. In reality, it turns out you’ve just got a sinus infection.

It’s a classic case of Webi’MDying, and if you’re a regular WebMD user then you’re probably shocked that you’ve made it this long and are still alive and kicking. The reality of the situation is that although online symptom-checker sites like WebMD can definitely provide us with helpful information about symptoms, treatments, and causes, there are definitely some times when they shouldn’t be your go-to for medical advice.
You may want to WebMD if…

  • You’re a naturally curious individual
  • You’re fascinated by the human body and find disease/death/injury interesting
  • You don’t think there’s anything seriously wrong with you and you’re just looking for some comedic relief
  • You want to freak out your parents and get the day off from school

You probably shouldn’t WebMD if…

  • You’re prone to paranoia
  • You find the human body generally disgusting and don’t actually want to know all of the different medical disasters that could strike you at any given point in time
  • You think there’s something seriously wrong with you that needs immediate attention
  • Your potential diagnosis is likely a broken bone or torn muscle/ligament

All jokes aside, it can be fun to browse around on WebMD sometimes, and there are definitely times when you’ll end up legitimately finding an answer on there about the symptoms you’ve been experiencing. At the end of the day, though, if you suspect that there’s something seriously wrong with you or that you’ll need medical attention from a real live human being, it’s usually better to bypass online symptom-checker sites like WebMD and go straight to the source. Doctors put a lot of years into becoming medical professionals, and we’ve found from personal experience that they usually know their stuff!