Experts Warn Against Taking Medical Advise From Social Media

In Education

A disturbing new trend has emerged where people take medical advice from social media influencers. These influencers may offer quick tips for a range of things, including weight loss and bloating, with a promise to completely cure you. However, while some recommendations could be harmless, others might worsen your condition.

According to Dr. Joyce Akwe, an internal medicine specialist, misinformation could cause people to delay medical care, which could be detrimental to their well-being. For this reason, patients should have enough knowledge of their conditions.

Most medical misinformation comes from social media

GoodRx did a survey that showed over 70% of people living in the U.S. had experienced medical misinformation. About 82% of the misinformation came from social media. Another 44% of study participants believed they could distinguish between correct and incorrect medical information.

Social media influencers usually spread misinformation that they label as wellness tips. Unfortunately, a study showed that about 20% of the search results have misinformation.

Akwe states that people should watch out for information that promises a quick fix or treatments that claim to work yet are not backed by scientific evidence. Some information is not on reputable sites or medical journals.

Different diseases might have similar symptoms

Moreover, people should not take anecdotal evidence as fact. It would be best if you share any health concerns with a doctor. While someone might share a symptom on social media that seems similar to yours, it might not be the same and require different interventions. In some cases, treatment for one condition could be dangerous for neither, despite having similar presentations.

An example of a worrying social media trend is eating papaya seeds to kill gut parasites. It stems from a 2007 study that showed that eating dried papaya seeds killed certain parasites in Nigerian children. However, the findings should not apply to everyone, as papaya seeds contain cyanide, which is dangerous. Furthermore, most Americans don’t need to worry about parasites.

However, Dr. Akwe warns that not all information on social media is false. There are many reputable sources for medical information. To verify if a doctor is accredited, check the Federation of State Medical Boards.

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