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wundayatta's avatar

Why do people ask us for health advice before seeing a doctor?

Asked by wundayatta (58357 points ) August 2nd, 2012

What do you think people really want from us?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

35 Answers

anartist's avatar

because we are practically a full-service medical facility.
How many doctors, veterinarians, nurses, therapists of all stripes are represented here on Fluther?

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
flutherother's avatar

We are a resource. Between us we have every medical problem and mental health issue known to man.

DrBill's avatar

A lot of people will ask their pool boy rather than seek real help from a Doctor in their office.

They don’t understand that 99% of diagnosis come from seeing the problem.

wundayatta's avatar

But we are always telling people they should see a doctor.

DigitalBlue's avatar

Because sometimes they want to know if they are overreacting, or if it is doctor-worthy. Not everyone has the means to run to the doctor every time they sneeze funny.

Trillian's avatar

I have a theory…

downtide's avatar

Based on my participation on other sites I think the majority of people who ask questions like that are minors who are unable to go to a doctor without their parents’ knowledge and/or assistance. Another large chunk of them are people with no insurance and no money to see a doctor even if they want to or know they should.

And sometimes you just wonder if what you’re experiencing is too minor and would be just a waste of the doctor’s time, and if it can be treated at home (as with colds and flu etc). I’m reminded here of the Jelly (I forget who it was) with a possibly-broken toe a week or so ago. There isn’t really a lot of point going to a doctor with something like that, but a lot of good advice was given on self-treatment.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@wundayatta, it hurts when I do this. What should I do? ~

Symbeline's avatar

I honestly often wondered this myself. I mean, maybe there are doctors and specialists on sites like these, but frankly…and I don’t think I’m alone in thinking this…if I woke up and there’s a wasp’s nest or like, an eyeball growing on my side, I’d much rather see a doctor in person…what’s anyone here really going to be able to do anyway, besides point out the obvious; go see a medical professional?

But I think @downtide has a point in his post. It could also be that someone isn’t even sure if a doctor’s attention might even be required or not…asking here could, perhaps, be a way to brighten up the situation, if only a little. Get a bit of a clearer idea on how to proceed. Get a lead.
Because despite my first paragraph, anyone who isn’t on the first echelon of Darwin’s ladder probably has more than enough sense to go see a doctor if they wake up and find that their intestines won’t stop vibrating. But if one is not sure, like if maybe a cut is infected but they’re not sure how to tell, there are lots of helpful people here who can provide links, information and stuff.

Or maybe some have ulterior motives in talking about their illnesses or something, who knows…for the most part, I doubt it, but there are weird people out there…people like me who really only answered this as an excuse to post completely ridiculous stuff about things growing on you in your sleep. XD

I think there’s a lot of things it can actually depend on, likes. If someone wants to go on a diet for example, how should they plan ahead, and what to expect. Anyone serious about this would probably seek professional counseling in some form or another, but asking online can’t hurt, either. I’m still waiting for the day when someone comes up in here and asks, so, is my arm broken?

SuperMouse's avatar

I get the impression that many people asking for medical advice plan to see a doctor and are looking for reassurance or information while they wait for the appointment. Usually it is tough to get in the same day unless a limb is severed or the person opts for a visit to an ER so this is a place to release some anxiety and hopefully get some positive feedback and a bit of information while they wait. They might be hoping that someone has experienced something similar and are hoping for first hand knowledge. Another thing these people get is sympathy and positive healing energy from a huge group of people.

I also think there is a percentage of people who are uninsured and prior to rushing off to a doctor and incurring all the bills that go with it, want to gauge the potential seriousness of their issue. If someone wakes up with a wasps nest on their side, maybe they are hoping to find someone who had the same thing happen to tell them to give it a week or so and it will probably go away. When one has insurance it might be hard to remember that many people don’t and are potentially a large medical bill away from financial ruin.

AshlynM's avatar

I agree with @SuperMouse.

Personally I’m scared to go to the doctor myself, mainly due to being misdiagnosed. I’ve heard of so many misdiagnosed horror stories, a person’s life could’ve been saved if only the doctor had properly diagnosed and treated them.

tom_g's avatar

Because healthcare in this country is such a nightmare, we’re all looking for a way out of having to experience it?

Sunny2's avatar

Haven’t you ever wondered if a condition you’re experiencing is worth going to a doctor about. (don’t even think about the grammar here.) If we say, “Don’t worry about it,” they won’t. If we say, “See a doctor,” they might at least consider it. People who are alone or young may need to ask. I know I’ve thought, “Is this worth bothering my doctor about?” I know I’ve thought, “Is this something about which I should bother my doctor?” there.

rooeytoo's avatar

I live in a country where I can go to the doctor for free and believe me, the offices are full of hypochondriacs or wankers needing a doctor note for not going to work for a week. But I digress, I often go to the internet instead of going to the doctor because I hate going to the doctor. Because we have national health care and the docs get paid by the head count, they want to give you every test known to modern humanity so that you have to come back each time while he reads numbers off a paper to you. I am not on public assistance, I work, am self employed so I don’t even get sick leave, so I don’t want to go back 27 times for a plantars wart that could be removed on the first visit! Besides that, there are some genuinely ill people in the doctor’s office, you can catch diseases there. YOu go in with a hang nail and come out with TB!

So I search the internet to see if there are any cases of a wart becoming gangrous causing my foot to fall off or becoming a terminal illness. If the internet says no, I go to the pharmacy and get a bottle of wart remover magical liquid and do it myself. Saves the taxpayers, saves docs time for people who are actually ill and we are all happy!

Kayak8's avatar

I agree with @downtide and @SuperMouse above. In addition, some folks have had the experience of going to the doctor only to have their condition minimized and, having been made to feel like they wasted their time (or the doctor’s time), they become more sensitive about their ability to assess their own ailments. I had this experience over and over until I finally found a doctor who listened to me and found that my ankle was broken in a place that didn’t show up on xray . . .

augustlan's avatar

Then there are those who plan on going to the doctor, but aren’t sure what to talk about when they get there. They have some weird symptom(s) or another, and need a starting place to know what conditions and/or tests they should be asking about. I’ve considered doing that myself, just recently.

blueiiznh's avatar

In a word:
Help.

wundayatta's avatar

Thank you for the answers so far. Some of your ideas are really helping me understand this better.

I must say that I am concerned about the idea that people would want to check with us to see whether it is worth bothering the doctor with the problem. This is particularly horrifying to me when the reason is that they don’t have health insurance or money to pay for care. But except for a few of us, we aren’t medical professionals. We don’t know what we don’t know. I would hate it if people told someone not to worry, and then it ended up being something quite serious. I would especially hate it if they delayed going to doctor for a few weeks and it ended up making the condition become much worse.

I’ve been in that position when I was young and had no health insurance. I think I ended up going to a free clinic or something. This was NYC in the late seventies, so they had those things then.

Fortunately, I haven’t delayed care for anything serious, so far. I wish that no one had to think about whether they could afford care. Perhaps one day we will get to true universal coverage.

zensky's avatar

I have a pain in my butt…

Coloma's avatar

Yes, I’d say help and reassurence.
Minor and common issues can often be resolved/answered without danger of wrong advice.
It’s the ” I have been bleeding from my ears for two days, can’t feel the left side of my face, have black sores on my tongue and my hair is falling out, what do you think is wrong with me?” type Q’s that blow my mind.

Um, you have Leprosy and will be sent to an isolated Colony on Tonga for the rest of your life. lol

aquaticeyes's avatar

Because some don’t want their doctors to think they are hypochondriacs haha

Nullo's avatar

If I want to see a doctor without actually being sick, I need to perform all manner of schedule gymnastics. On top of that, I don’t like to be fussed over, medically, unless there actually is something wrong – and even then, I tend to downplay it. Yes, I know it’s a bad habit. I try not to let it get out of control.

Shippy's avatar

Because it saves me Googling for hours on my own!

bookish1's avatar

@downtide: I was the one who had asked the potentially-broken-toe question… It was for reassurance; I had no money even to go to a state-subsidized doctor, and I was hoping that it was something I could take care of on my own. (I’d never broken anything before and didn’t even know if that was a reasonable expectation.)

And being a hypochondriac with 3 endocrine conditions who visits doctors for routine care about 2–3 times a month, I sympathize with the desire to check in with others to make sure one’s not being a hypochondriac!

JLeslie's avatar

Because doctors suck all too often. Sometimes they just are not very good, and sometimes it is because medical science just does not know enough yet to help. Asking here can arm us with some information about possible tests and questions to ask. It also can help us know what to expect at the doctor’s office. What kind of tests might be suggested so we feel more mentally prepared.

Also, we can get stories of how similar situations regarding health wound up. Like when Luckyguy can help someone else dealing with urinary trouble, or mariah dealing with digestive problems. They provide empathy and knowledge.

I probably am more likely to ask a question here if my doctor has not had a good answer, rather than before seeing a doctor. I guess it is actually asking before seeing another doctor.

@wundaywatta I don’t feel like anyone ever advises another jelly to not go to the doctor. Although, I did on one Q tell a woman I think they are doing an heart angiogram too hastily on her mom. A doctor on that Q was not happy with me. I said to wait a little while her thyroid corrected. They did the aniogram, and I wound up being right, they concluded she was fne and needed to wait for her thyroid to correct. But, I didn’t say don’t do the angiogram, I was just saying there is a good chance she doesn’t have a heart problem. Because the OP was very worried her mom had some horrible heart problem.

anartist's avatar

Hey don’t forget @judochop

JLeslie's avatar

What about judochop?

JLeslie's avatar

Good story. I wish Shilolo would come back. :) Although, I think he was the doc arguing with me on the thyroid and heart question. LOL. I really value the doctors we have here, even if I seem frustrated with doctors quite often. It is a gift some doctors will give advice online in my opinion.

_Whitetigress's avatar

Fear of reality

rooeytoo's avatar

@_Whitetigress – probably a lot of that in my case, ignorance is bliss and body heal thyself!

janbb's avatar

I think it is often the weekend worries when you can’t get to the doctor yet.

anartist's avatar

I didn’t know @shilolo had left. When? Why?

JLeslie's avatar

@anartist It’s over a year ago, not sure exactly how long.

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