There Is a Right Way to Look Up Your Medical Symptoms Using Google

iStock.com/South_agency
iStock.com/South_agency

Doctors often don't like it when patients use Google to self-diagnose their ailments—and not only because it means less work for them. The internet is rife with inaccurate medical information, and if you experience hypochondria or health-related anxiety, as many of the people who obsessively look up their medical symptoms do, heading down a internet rabbit hole can leave you more stressed.

But whether it's a smart idea or not, many of us will look up our medical symptoms online at some point. In 2013, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found that about 35 percent of Americans went online specifically to diagnose their own medical condition or that of someone they knew. Of people who went online to seek general health info, eight in 10 started their symptom inquiry with a search engine rather than going straight to a medical website or some other source. With that in mind, there are some things to be aware of if you can't wait to consult your doctor before turning to the web.

To have a positive researching experience, Quartz recommends evaluating your mental state before starting the process. If your quest for more information about your health comes from a practical, level-headed place, it probably won't hurt too much to plug your symptoms into the search bar. But if you've already convinced yourself that something is seriously wrong and you're hoping the search will ease your worries, you should pause for a moment.

Self-diagnosing online rarely alleviates anxiety and often makes it worse. Typing chest pain into WebMD, for example, brings up everything from heartburn to heart attack. So don't start Googling your medical symptoms if peace of mind is your goal. And if you find that looking at health information puts anxious thoughts in your head that weren't there before, log off, or put a limit on your browsing time to discourage such thoughts from popping up in the first place.

Another way to save yourself unneeded stress is by avoiding sources filled with unreliable information. Government websites, like MedlinePlus.gov, and academic sites, like the Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library, are often the most trustworthy resources. Always check the date on articles to make sure they're fairly recent, and see if the page lists the medical credentials of the author. And even if you're confident in your self-diagnosis, always visit a flesh-and-blood doctor before acting on your search results.

[h/t Quartz]

7 Quick Tips for Disinfecting Your Home the Smart Way

Frequent cleaning of high-traffic areas can reduce the spread of illness in your home.
Frequent cleaning of high-traffic areas can reduce the spread of illness in your home.
BrianAJackson/iStock via Getty Images

With many people spending more time—or virtually all of their time—indoors, it’s natural for thoughts to turn to how to best clean surfaces that might help minimize the risk of spreading illness. Although researchers believe respiratory droplets are the primary way coronavirus is transmitted, preliminary data, which is not yet peer-reviewed, suggests the virus may remain on some surfaces for hours or days.

While scrubbing isn't a complex process, there are nonetheless some areas of your home you might be neglecting. Here’s how to best approach a household scrub, as well as identify and disinfect some common germ hot spots.

1. Pay attention to high-touch surfaces and clean them frequently.

High-touch surfaces are exactly what they sound like: Areas in the home that get handled and touched regularly. Think doorknobs, light switches, appliance handles, toilet handles, faucets, and remotes. And don’t forget laptops, keyboards, desks, and phones.

2. Don't just do a quick wipe down. Get the entire surface.

Taking a disinfecting wipe to the keyhole of a doorknob isn’t going to do you much good—it's important to really scrub all high-touch surfaces. Make sure you get every available surface area, including the plate behind the knob where fingers and hands often brush against it. When cleaning remotes, make sure you don't just scrub the buttons, but the space between them as well.

3. You can use soap and water.

While products claiming to kill 99.9 percent of germs are best in this scenario, there's another option if you're having a hard time tracking down those supplies—simply mix some dish soap in water. It won’t kill organisms, but it can remove them from the surface. (And while soap and water can work for high-touch surfaces throughout the home, you shouldn't use the solution on electronics like your remote or keyboard.)

If you’re looking to kill germs, diluted bleach (four teaspoons to one quart of water) and 70 percent alcohol solutions work well. But it's important to note that bleach and other cleaners can harm certain surfaces. So be sure to do your research and make sure the product you're using won't cause any damage before you start scrubbing.

4. Take laundry precautions.

If you’re trying to be extra-vigilant about the spread of germs in the house, you should consider washing clothes at the highest possible temperature and disinfecting laundry bins. It’s also advisable to use disposable laundry bags.

5. Remove your shoes before entering the house.

This step is more preventative, but it’s a simple way to keep from tracking in contaminants. Remove your shoes before going inside and leave them near the door. It's also a good idea to clean floor surfaces with disinfecting mop cloths, but be sure anything you use is safe for the finished surface. Cleaners like bleach can discolor certain materials.

6. Don't forget to clean your car.

Even people vigilant about cleaning their home can neglect their car interior. Since you’re constantly touching virtually every surface, be sure to wipe everything down regularly, including the steering wheel and door handles. If you have a leather interior, there are auto wipes available for those surfaces. And before you go wipe down any touchscreens, be sure to check your owner’s manual to see if they require any special microfiber cloth.

7. Give your debit cards a wipe.

It’s a good idea to disinfect credit or debit cards that follow you around on shopping excursions. As with all high-touch objects, be sure to wipe them down every day.

[h/t New York Times]

The World Health Organization Is Releasing a COVID-19 App to Combat Coronavirus Misinformation

WHO MyHealth is meant to help clear up misinformation surrounding the novel coronavirus.
WHO MyHealth is meant to help clear up misinformation surrounding the novel coronavirus.
MangoStar_Studio/iStock via Getty Images

As is the case with most crises, the novel coronavirus has become a breeding ground for misinformation. Because the disease is so new, there are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding it, but that hasn't stopped people from claiming to know how to treat, prevent, and detect COVID-19. In an effort to separate fact from fiction, the World Health Organization (WHO) is launching an app dedicated to sharing what we know and don't know about the virus, 9to5Google reports.

Named WHO MyHealth, the new app is a collaboration between former Google and Microsoft employees, WHO advisors and ambassadors, and other tech and health experts. Users will be able to compare their symptoms with those linked to COVID-19 and receive public health updates specific to their location. As of now, there are plans to invite people who have been either been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19 to share their phone's location history to give experts a better idea of how the virus spreads.

WHO MyHealth, which is currently being built as open source, is set to roll out for Android and iOS on Monday, March 30. If you have questions about COVID-19 you need answered immediately, you can also access accurate and up-to-date information through the WHO's chatbot.

Any information regarding novel coronavirus should be met with skepticism when it can't be traced back to organizations like the WHO or the CDC—especially when it comes to supposed cures. No specific medication has been proven to treat or prevent COVID-19, so you shouldn't take advice from anyone claiming otherwise.

[h/t 9to5Google]

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