WITH a pinch of salt online symptom checkers should be viewed very cautiously as they do not know your medical history or other symptoms.

One study finds online portals are right only 36% of the times.

Many people turn to ''Dr. Google'' to self diagnose their health symptoms and seek medical advice. But online symptoms checkers are only accurate about a third of the time, warn researchers, reported  SocialNewsXYZ.

The new study published in the Medical Journal of Australia, analysed 36 International mobile and web based symptom checkers and found they produced the correct diagnosis as the first result just  36% of the times only, and without the top three results 52% of the time.

The research also found that the advice provided on when and where to seek health care was accurate 49% of the time.

''While it may be tempting to use these tools to find out what may be causing symptoms, most of the time, they are unreliable at best and can be dangerous at worst,'' said study lead author Michella Hill from Edith Cowan University from Australia.

Online symptom checkers ask users to list their symptoms before presenting possible diagnosis.

According to the researchers, they maybe providing false sense of security. ''We've all been guilty of  being 'cyber-chondriacs'' and Googling at at the first sign of of a niggle or headache,'' Hill said.

But the result is these websites and apps should be viewed very cautiously as they do not look at the whole picture. - they don't know your medical history or other symptoms, they said.

''For people who lack health knowledge,'' they may think the advice they're given is accurate or that their condition is not serious when it may be,'' Hill explained.

The researchers found the advice for seeking medical attention for emergency and urgent care cases was appropriate around 60% of the time, but for non-emergencies that dropped to 30% to 40%.

According to Hill, online symptom checkers can have a place in the modern health symptom. ''These sites are are not a replacement for going to the doctor, but they can be useful in providing more information once you do have an official diagnosis,'' she said.

The World Students Society thanks News Desk, The Express Tribune.


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