We’re getting into the cold/allergy/what in the world is going on with my body time of year, so here’s some important info for those of you who rely on the internet instead of a doctor to identify your illness. 

The way in which websites like WebMD present their symptoms can have an effect on whether or not we think we’re afflicted with some illness or disease. Psychological Science has published a new study that reports that many of us have a greater chance of thinking we have an illness if we see a few of our symptoms listen consecutively. Sounds about right to me.

The study suggests that we lay importance on the idea of a “streak” – that succession is akin to some sort of confirmation. Researchers came to this conclusion by creating a list of symptoms for a fictional type of thyroid cancer. The symptoms were divided into broad (like weight gain) and more specific (like feeling a lump under the skin) and then complied into several variations. Some versions of the list had the broad symptoms all grouped together, others had them interspersed. Researchers then had a group of volunteers read the list and tell them whether or not they thought it was likely that they had this type of thyroid cancer. Those who had the list with broad symptoms all lumped together reported thinking themselves at a greater risk for cancer.

And really, it makes sense – I can always feel that mounting sense of dread when I read one symptom after the other that I know I have. And that dread turns into a beeline for a pharmacy. I guess the moral of the story is this: go to the doctor. If you start to think things are worse than just some sniffles and sneezes, try to make a visit to a professional so you can really get a true diagnosis and not stress out about the possibility of you having some rare disease that surely will mean your imminent death. (via HuffingtonPost)

Do you Lovelies use online sources to identify and treat your illnesses?