dr-google.pngWomen, it has been claimed, are now more likely to go online to diagnose symptoms than to arrange and wait for an appointment with their doctor. Up to 25 per cent are said to have misdiagnosed an illness as a result of a consultation with 'Dr Google'.

No surprises there, you might be thinking. After all, who hasn't taken a moment to check whether a symptom is worth time off work and a potentially long wait to see an over-burdened GP? What is perhaps a revelation is that women are using the internet to diagnose symptoms at twice the rate men are.

In the past, it was women who were said to visit the doctor more often than men, who were in more danger of ignoring potentially dangerous symptoms through reluctance to seek help. This phenomenon seems like an extension of the same tendency: we simply take more of an interest in our health and are more likely to investigate a worrying sign by whatever means as quickly as possible.

But there is a more worrying side to this story we shouldn't ignore: the internet is no substitute for an actual doctor, and the widespread availability of prescription meds that can also be found online can lead in some cases to dangerous attempts at self-medication for conditions wrongly diagnosed.

So if you're considering a consultation with Dr. Google, be sure to take everything you read with a pinch of salt, and try to stick to sources with some credence like the NHS Direct site. The health service may be stretched and waiting times can seem long, but don't forget its our right to be seen by a professional and there are systems in place to make our voices heard if we don't receive proper treatment. Your health is worth more than a Google search!