Sep 26, 2010
As we are all 21st century citizens, we have a ridiculous amount of information available to us just by typing in something on a computer and pressing enter. Many health-obsessed people such as myself need the answers to something that is going wrong inside of us. Something doesn't feel right. So, we go into Google or WebMD, type in a disease or symptom, and see if things match up. This is called Googlechondria or Cyberchondria. It's caused by Hypochondria, which is also known as health anxiety.
We type away at the keyboard, and press enter. Swollen lymph nodes. Flu like symptoms. Someone with no past sexual history may be told that they are experincing Acute/Primary HIV Infection, also known as Acute Retroviral Symptom. This person may just simply have a flu bug that is going around in the general population. Genital region is in pain. Achy pelvis. Buttocks suffering from dull pain. Someone might look at these symptoms and find that they may possibly have genital herpes or a sexual transmitted disease, but they just have prostate inflammation that was not caused by an infection.
When we are faced with a fact that something might be in our body that may be working against us, it is natural to freak out, feel insecure, and lose a bit of control. The fact is there is ALWAYS something inside of our body working against us. We always have good and bad bacteria in our body and viruses. Our stomach flora consists of a balance of good and bad bacteria. Try this quote from one of my favorite movies, Vanilla Sky: "Life is never as sweet without the sour."
Just because you go in and type something in a search engine and the symptoms match up, does not mean you have it. Only a doctor or a licensed medical professional can tell you. The information you find regarding medical conditions like HIV and Diabetes are usually accurate, BUT: The majority of the information you come across will not mention the duration or describe in detail the specificity of the symptoms. Therefore, we are left with the mystery that causes fear, which also leads several users to come to MedHelp and acquire help in the communities. So while the information is accurate, your interpretation might be inaccurate.
There are three examples I can give you that I have dealt with personally that involved Googlechondria/Cyberchondria, as I suffer from Hypochondria, Health OCD (these two are actually separate mental disorders, and having both makes everything worse).
First off, When I was put on Doxycycline at the beginning of the month, about 80 to 90 hours into the medication, I started losing water like crazy. I was urinating every 30 minutes, and I was afraid to sleep because I was afraid I could wet my bed. I called my pharmacist and consulted with poison control. They both recommended I discontinue the medication because I might have Diabetes. I looked up Diabetes and things seemed to match up, but my mother allowed me to use her diabetic blood testing kit, and my blood sugar was 88. I ran it a second time, and it was 86. A urine culture done by my urologist less than a week after the treatment had finished found no signs of diabetes in my urine, either. My primary care physician told me I definitely do not have it, as well as my urologist. This was not caused by an infection either, for I did not have an infection when the labs returned after the treatment.
Secondly, near the end of the summer last year, I had an unprotected sexual encounter, male to male, very high risk. I had HIV tests done in the fall which came back negative. In mid-November, I suddenly got really sick. I started feeling real weak, and I kept telling myself it was all in my head and it was crap. The next day, my neck was completely stiff, my lymph nodes were completely swollen, and I had NEVER felt this weak in my entire life. I found it a chore to drag myself to my bed. I even threw up once. I thought I was suffering from Acute Retroviral Syndrome. My doctors assured me this was not the case. I was sick for about a week, and as I got better, I continued to feel weak and fatigued for about 2 to 3 weeks. In February, I ran another HIV test, along with a full STD panel. My tests confirmed that the symptoms were not from HIV, nor were they from any sexually transmitted diseases. It was just a flu bug going around. All of the tests were negative.
Finally, if you have read my previous post, you already know what I'm going to say, but I'm saving this most important for last. In May of this year, I had been suffering from pelvic region pain, and my penis was in pain. I kept googling symptoms and researching them like crazy. I ran into herpes. I tried telling myself I should know better, but 2 days later, I caved in to the pressure, and I was in an outpatient clinic where they tested me. The test came back positive for genital herpes. They started me on valacyclovir, and I cannot tell you how many times I desired to end my life following my diagnosis. 3 and a half months after my diagnosis, I come here to MedHelp. 2 of the the herpes community leaders tell me I had a non-specific test, and I confirm this with a lab, and I get a more specific test. I am negative. Turns out, my symptoms are being caused by a prostate inflammation not caused by any type of infection, but it was brought on through the extreme stress and anxiety that my Hypochondria had built up, causing extreme stress in the muscles inside my body (this is called CPPS). I wasted 4 months of my life living with something I didn't have. Why? Because I was absolutely obsessed on looking all over the internet for information about what was wrong with me, and it put me in the wrong direction.
Now, something everyone should realize.
The human body is not perfect. It is a very fragile thing. Hell, we can get seriously injured from 25 mile per hour car crashes (don't let this worry you though, because I survived a 40 mile per hour car crash with just a airbag burn on my arm and no scratches at all). Our bodies are very susceptible to infections, and it's no wonder we get colds, fevers, and swollen lymph nodes. It's normal. Just because you have a few swollen lymph nodes does not mean you have cancer, HIV, or any other serious illness. Heck, if you are even bed-ridden like I was for a week, you could just have the flu.
This is the human condition. It's thrilling, amazing, but sometimes its downright painful. But we don't have to continue to live in pain and obsess over something like this. If you continue to live in fear, the mental impacts of such could affect you physically as well, and I am proof positive of this. I suffer from Hypochondria, and if you look at my first posts on this website, you will definitely be able to tell that I suffer from it a great deal.
But think about it for a moment: There is no sense in worrying about it. Nobody gets out of life alive. You need to live to your fullest. You should love your body, and you should protect it as it were your own child. Living in continuous fear is the most hurtful thing you can do to your body. It can knock off valuable years of your life you could spend doing great and wonderful things.
New friends, new lovers, new places, so much lies ahead for you, regardless of who you are. Think of the new things you could accomplish every day, no matter how insignificant they may seem. You will live longer, and you will live happier.