Education

Top 10 Googled Health Questions (With Proper Answers)

According to the top health-related questions asked on Google, people in 2019 were most curious about lowering blood pressure, learning about the keto diet, and getting rid of the hiccups.

That’sjust a few of the millions of searches that Internet users asked “Dr. Google” —the name given the dominant search engine as more Americans seek answers toquestions they should be asking their doctor. About 1 percent of all searcheson Google — representing tens of millions of inquiries a day — aresymptom-related.

“Most of the information online is not complete, and relying toomuch on this information is what drives cyberchondria,” said David Mishkin, M.D.,medical director for Baptist Health’s Care On Demand,a platform that provides patients with immediate online access to aBoard-certified doctor via an app.  

Cyberchondria is a hybrid term that combines“cyberspace” with hypochondria, which refers to people who are abnormallyanxious about their health.

“That is why I always encourage patients to consult with aphysician first before making an incorrect self-diagnosis that can only lead tounwarranted anxiety and stress,” adds Dr. Mishkin.

Here are the top health-related questions submitted to Googleover the past year (with the proper answers):

1. How to lower blood pressure?

Obviously, your primary care physicianshould discuss with you the ways you can lower your blood pressure, includingpossible medication and lifestyle modifications that cover healthier eating andregular exercise. The result of lifestyle modifications can lead to fewer or nomedications for those with hypertension (high blood pressure) or those who haveelevated blood pressure readings and are “pre-hypertensive.” The category ofhigh blood pressure, which was updated in 2017, is now 130/80, down from140/90. This stricter standard, the first major change in blood pressureguidelines in 14 years, means that nearly half of U.S. adults have high bloodpressure. The biggest culprit in the American diet when it comes to high bloodpressure is sodium, the most common form of which is table salt. Learnmore.

2. What is Keto?

Ketorefers to ketogenic or ketosis, a metabolic state in which stored fat is brokendown to produce energy. Studies have shown that keto diets can produceshort-term weight loss. However, a true ketogenic diet, which is high in fattyfoods, should be medically supervised and comes with potentially serious risksfor some people, including those with high cholesterol, diabetes orpre-diabetes or other underlying conditions. If you’re looking to loseweight and keep it off, Keto is just another fad diet about which there hasn’tbeen much long-term research.Foradults, U.S. dietary guidelines call forkeeping saturated fat consumption to less than 10 percent of calories per day.In general, foods that are higher in dietary cholesterol, such as fatty meatsand high-fat dairy products, are also higher in saturated fats. Learn more.

3. How to get rid of hiccups?

At one time or another, everyone getshiccups, which is when your diaphragm begins to spasm involuntarily. Thediaphragm is a large muscle that helps with breathing in and out. When thespasms occur, a person inhales suddenly and their vocal cords snap shut, whichleads to the distinctive “hiccup” sound. Common causes: eating toomuch or too quickly, carbonated drinks, and being stressed or emotionallyexcited. Holding one’s breath is the best known way of getting rid of thehiccups. Just inhale a large gulp of air and hold it for about 10 to 20seconds, then breathe out slowly. Repeat as necessary. Slow and measuredbreathing for a couple of minutes can also do the trick. If hiccups persist forhours, either continuously or sporadically, seek medical attention. Hiccups arenormally harmless and last for a few seconds or minutes.

4. How long does the flu last?

Accordingto the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults typicallydevelop flu symptoms one to four days after becoming infected with theinfluenza virus. Most people get better after about three to seven days, thoughsome symptoms like coughing and fatigue can persist for two weeks or more.Overall, the recovery-time range for most people is a few days to less than twoweeks.

5. What causes hiccups?

Theprecise cause of hiccups is often not known. However, there are some knowntriggers that can cause them, including spicy foods, hot liquids, any diseaseor illness that irritates the nerves that control the diaphragm. Other possiblecauses: eating too quickly, certain medications, breathing noxious fumes, andeating or drinking too much. Sometimes, serious underlying health conditionscan trigger hiccups, including strokes, brain lesions, tumors, intestinaldiseases, and liver or kidney disorders. Seek medical attention if you havepersistent or chronic hiccups.

6. What causes kidney stones?

When there isn’t enough water todilute the uric acid, a component of urine, the urine becomes more acidic. Andthis can lead to the formation of kidney stones. A leading cause of kidneystones, regardless of type, is dehydration. Anyone who is prone to kidneystones should pay attention to good hydration. The American UrologicalAssociation guideline for medical management of kidney stones recommends thatpatients who form kidney stones should aim to drink more than 2.5 liters offluid per day.

7. What is HPV?

HPV (human papillomavirus) is a verycommon virus that can lead to several types of cancers later in life. You canprotect your child from ever developing these cancers with the HPV vaccine atages 11-12, according to the U.S. Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention (CDC). An estimated 80 million people — aboutone in four — are currently infected in the United States with HPV. Youngadults up to age 26 can be vaccinated as well; three doses are recommended forpeople 15 and older, according to the CDC. Overall, HPV cancers include cancerof the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, or anus. HPV infection can also causecancer in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils.HPV is spread through sexual contact with someone who carries the virus.

8. How to lower cholesterol?

Cholesterol circulates in the bloodand can mix with other substances to form a thick, hard deposit on the insideof the arteries. This can narrow the arteries, causing a condition known asatherosclerosis. Nearly one of every three U.S. adults have high levels of“low-density lipoprotein cholesterol” (LDL-C), which is considered the badcholesterol because it contributes to fatty plaque buildups and narrowing ofthe arteries. To lower your cholesterol, eat a heart-healthy diet and get aminimum of 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise,three to four times a week. You should also take any prescribed medicationexactly as your doctor has instructed.

9. How many calories should I eat a day?

Generally, U.S. dietary guidelinessay adult women need 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day, and adult men about 2,000to 3,000 calories per day. However, the total number of calories a person needseach day varies depending on a number of factors, including the person’s age,sex, height, weight, and level of physical activity. Consult with a physicianif you are overweight to determine a course of action, which would likelyinclude modifications to daily nutritional habits and a regular exerciseprogram. However, there may be underlying health conditions that may need additionaltreatment, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar.Within each age and sex category, the low end of the range is for sedentaryindividuals, while the high end of the range applies to active individuals.

10. How long does alcohol stay in your system?

Alcohol is metabolized at a standard rate, but not everyone feel the same effects from alcohol and the amount of time alcohol stays in the system can vary by body type, age, gender and other factors. That’s mostly because blood alcohol concentrations can vary among people and situations. Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) refers to the amount of alcohol in your blood in relation to the amount of water in your blood. Several factors can affect BAC and how you react to alcohol, including: your age and weight; drinking alcohol on an empty stomach, medications being taken; and if you have chronic liver disease. Also, drinking several drinks in a short period of time, which is also known as binge drinking, can have serious health implications. The CDC says that excessive alcohol use, including underage drinking and binge drinking (drinking 5 or more drinks on an occasion for men or 4 or more drinks on an occasion for women), can lead to increased risk of health problems such as injuries, violence, liver diseases, and cancer.

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