Nearly everyone has Googled questions related to health issues at one point, or at least semi-regularly. Meanwhile, the Internet search giant keeps tabs on the most common health-related questions.
Even those who make an appointment to see their doctors, will take time out to thoroughly research a condition or symptom, a practice which is challenging the healthcare industry to become more interactive with their patients, says David Mishkin, M.D. , medical director for Baptist Health’s Care On Demand , a platform that provides patients with immediate online access to a Board-certified doctor via an app.
“Patients are going to start doing their own research, like in other consumer industries,” says Dr. Mishkin. “Healthcare is a little different. Patients are very smart and have done their homework. But searching on the web has its risks. Much of the information online is not complete and much of it is unreliable.”
Dr. Mishkin and other healthcare professionals caution patients not to take action based information from Internet searches. Always consult with a physician.
That said, here are the top 5 Googled health-related questions of 2017, with answers provided:
5. ‘How long does the flu last?’
This year’s flu season is quite active. If you are diagnosed with influenza, you can expect symptoms to last one to two weeks after the onset. Every individual, child or adult, has a different outcome when it comes to flu duration. Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections) as a result of the flu. Complications can prolong symptoms, such as cough, runny or stuffy nose, fatigue, headaches, sore throat and fever. Individuals who are at the highest risk of prolonged illness caused by the flu include people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women and young children.
4. ‘Why am I so tired?’
Feeling tired or exhausted is common at various times in one’s life. But when tiredness or fatigue is frequent, it’s time to check with your doctor. There are many factors that can make you feel tired. There are well-established causes, such as anemia and thyroid problems. Some common chronic ailments can cause frequent tiredness, such as diabetes, food intolerance and the sleeping disorder sleep apnea . Being overweight or underweight can also cause tiredness. As can a lack of regular exercise or too much of a sedentary lifestyle. When a person is not fit, it’s more challenging for the body to perform normal everyday activities. That can cause someone to get tired more quickly and more intensely. You can also feel tired often if you are underweight since you may likely have less muscle strength.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that has no underlying medical condition. The cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is unknown. Some medical experts speculate that chronic fatigue syndrome could be caused by a combination of factors. Treatment CFS centers on relieving common symptoms, such as lack of sleep, general and frequent fatigue, loss of memory, headaches and muscle or joint pain.
3. ‘What causes kidney stones?’
One in every 20 people will develop kidney stones at one point in their lives. Kidney stones, a hard, crystalline mineral material, usually forms when there is a decrease in urine volume. This makes dehydration a major risk factor for kidney stone formation. Low urine volume can result from not drinking enough fluids, especially after exercise, excessive physical activity of any kind or being outside in the heat for too long. Obesity is another risk factor for kidney stones. Excessive body weight may change the acid levels in the urine, leading to stone formation. Some medical conditions and a family history of kidney stones can also increase your risk. Some medications and vitamin supplements can lead to kidney stone formation.
Kidney stones can be a painful condition. Pain can be severe or sudden in the abdomen, and in the back or side of the body, sometimes accompanied by nausea or vomiting. Pain can also occur during urination. It’s important to see your doctor if you have any symptoms.
2. ‘How to stop snoring?’
There are numerous steps you can take to stop snoring, according to the American Sleep Association and sleep disorder experts.
- Try not to sleep on your back. Snoring is often worse when you are sleeping on your back. Try sleeping on your side or making adjustments with big pillows to keep from rolling onto your back.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Excessive weight gain can be a factor in snoring. People who are overweight or obese often have extra bulky throat tissue. Genetic factors can also contribute to extra throat tissue as well as enlarged tonsils, large adenoids, or a long soft palate — all of which can cause snoring. Losing excess weight is good for overall health, which could include reducing or eliminating snoring.
- Breathing through your nose. Many people snore when they breathe through their mouth. Try breathing through the nose, possibly with the help of commonly sold “nasal strips” which help open nasal passages for easier breathing during sleep.
- Get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep, seven to eight hours a night for most adults, helps prevent snoring. Not getting enough sleep pushes the body to want more deep sleep. The result is that the snoring can be much worse.
- See a sleep specialist. An estimated 18 million Americans with obstructive sleep apnea stop and start breathing numerous times while asleep, causing heavy snoring, morning headache, sore throat and daytime drowsiness. It’s important to get proper treatment  if a sleep disorder is preventing you from getting healthy, regular sleep — and that sleep disorder may be causing excessive snoring.
1. ‘What causes hiccups?’
Hiccups are the result of involuntary contractions of the diaphragm, the muscle at the base of your lungs that moves as you breathe. Each contraction is followed by a sudden closure of your vocal cords, which produces the familiar “hic” sound. Hiccups can be caused by eating a large meal or eating too quickly, consuming excessive alcoholic or carbonated beverages or drinking too quickly, or even a sudden bout of excitement or stress. Sometimes, but rarely, hiccups may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (chronic acid reflux), also known as GERD. An episode of hiccups usually lasts only a few minutes. See your doctor if your hiccups last more than 48 hours, or if they are so intense and frequent that they cause problems with eating, sleeping or breathing.