The Internet Says I'm Going to Die

Having returned from my trip on the high seas with an unwanted biological souvenir in the form of an extremely [tag]sore throat[/tag] (I may even break down and go to the doctor today), I decided to Google my symptoms. At first I didn’t think it was strep or anything like that, because I haven’t had much of a fever, and my lymph nodes aren’t swollen or anything. But this is going on three or four days now, and I have big pussy white blobs of gunk on the back of my throat. So I did what any Gen Xer would do in my situation, having unsuccessfully ignored the problem: I turned to technology.

And it dawned on me, as I read through the Google-provided links to information prompted by a search for “sore throat” and “white spots,” that the Internet must drive hypochondriacs absolutely bat-shit insane. First off, I learned that fever and swollen glands (heh heh, Butthead, you just said “swollen glands”) may not necessarily be a symptom of strep; it could be that the [tag]strep[/tag] infection is still localized and just hasn’t spread yet. But on the other hand, white pussy spots can be present with viral throat infections as well. I also learned that if left untreated, strep can lead to systemic infections and what not. Well, that clears that up.

I also learned that my symptoms can indicate all sorts of other medical maladies such as throat cancer, or other conditions that can piggy back on top of strep, such as scarlet fever, diphtheria, rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease (damaged heart valves) and so on. My favorite was something that I had never heard of before: post streptococcal glomerulonephritis, or inflammation of the glomeruli, the little doodads in the kidneys that filter blood. But my favorite of the list has to be [tag]necrotizing fasciitis[/tag]; apparently one strain of the strep bacteria can produce the dreaded flesh eating bacteria. Yikes!

Of course, all of these extreme medical conditions are rather rare; many of the medical sources I read were quick to note that strep usually does not produce these secondary problems (hypochondriacs take note!). Myself, I’m not too worried about it, specially since I’ve gotten sore throats pretty much consistently since I was a kid, thanks to allergies and post-nasal drip. BTW, it seems that adults average two viral throat infections a year, and a case of strep throat every eight years.

But anyway, I can’t help but imagine what a [tag]hypochondriac[/tag] must go through with access to all the medical information that can be had through the Internet. Naturally, that lead me to Google the terms “[tag]hypochondria[/tag]” and “Internet.” Sure enough, there were all sorts of tales to be read of misdiagnoses a la the Internet, and even scholarly articles on how the Internet serves to exacerbate hypochondria (one linked below even coins the term “cyberchondria”). Here’s just a sample:

Internet Makes Hypochondria Worse

Internet hypochondria

Myself, I guess I’m going to go down to the walk-in clinic this afternoon before my sore throat turns into necrotizing rheumatic glomerulonephritis.