One in four women use Google to diagnose health issues

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Picture the scene: you have a female health irregularity and are both concerned and embarrassed to talk about it. Do you a) pluck up the courage to share your concerns with a medical professional or confide in someone or b) bask in the anonymity of the online world and simply type in your symptoms and wait for a solution to pop up courtesy of a quick Google search. One in four of us would opt for option b).

New research reveals one in four women have misdiagnosed themselves online, then bought the wrong products to try and relieve their symptoms. Searching their symptoms online and self-medicating can come with some pretty unpleasant side effects as a result of misdiagnosing – this affected a tenth of the 1,000 women surveyed.

Worries about what could be wrong commonly drive women to look for help online. We may also feel uncomfortable talking about health issues with friends or family, another reason why our first port of call may be to check online.

The study found symptoms including having problems sleeping, headaches, depression, muscle pain, itching and fatigue were most likely to prompt women to diagnose themselves. While most women spent a few days worrying over symptoms before speaking to anyone and a third waited at least two weeks; fear that something may be seriously wrong prevented one in 20 women from getting checked out by a GP for a number of years.

If going to your family GP or confiding in someone really is an issue, please tread very carefully when searching online for information. The Health Counter, the sponsors of Channel 4’s BAFTA award-winning Embarrassing Bodies, offers a personal and confidential online doctor service for those times when you would rather not go to your own GP. Made up of a panel of registered GPs, the online doctors service delivers remote medical consultations.

Would you drink this for better health?

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As health fads go, this one certainly made my morning cuppa splatter everywhere when I first heard of this amphibian-related wellbeing kick from Peru.

Yes, we may all have come across some health crazes that raise an eyebrow, but seriously, are people really drinking juice from frogs regularly?

Sadly, yes. One lady who runs a Peruvian juice stand in Lima has confessed to adding frogs to her juice and milkshakes for a number of years. She claims the juice extracted from the frogs can help to strengthen the body, reduce fatigue, while also acting as an effective tonic for bones and eyes. The juice is combined with up to 20 different types of fruit, and can also include a splash of wine, depending on each customer’s preference.

If you think this woman is alone in loving her daily frog kick, you’re very wrong. Her stand is ever popular, whizzing up to 80 drinks containing juices extracted from frogs each day. Some locals have even admitted they are unable to start the day without one.

I don’t care what the purported health effects are, I wouldn’t and couldn’t try even a sip of that. Yuck. 

The question is, could you?

Is your working lifestyle putting your health at risk?

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If you’re anything like me: sitting at your laptop and working away on features, transcriptions, research, paperwork and tons of emails is a key part of what you do. Yes, you can work in the garden or work remotely in a more picturesque backdrop, but there’s no getting away from that face-to-face technology time that is critical to the way you work. But, did you know, those long hours in front of your computer can soon stack up putting your health at serious risk?

Keep an eye on those weekly hours totting up as working from morning through to night has been linked with dementia. If, at the moment, you’re averaging around 55 hours per week, make some changes and reduce those hours down to 41 hours or less. Your poor overworked brain will be glad of this new respite.

Research from the British Chiropractic Association revealed that a third of us sit for more than ten hours per day, and worse still, half admitted to not even leaving their desk to have lunch. Similarly, previous research by the British Heart Foundation found that HALF of us spend most of our days immobile. Making just a few subtle changes can make such a difference. Getting a little lunchtime fresh air will not only perk you up but also increase concentration when you do return to your desk. With warmer weather all around us (well most days!) there is no excuse to hide inside.

A sobering thought to keep in the back of your mind at all times is: those who work 11 hours per day raise their risk of heart disease by up to 67 percent according to new research funded by the Medical Research Council.

Make to-do lists more manageable and try not to set crazy targets to meet each day. Learn to go a little easier on yourself and your mind, heart and body will really thank you for it.

Are you a lunch break skipper?

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I must confess I’m not great at taking daily lunch breaks. I’ll usually stop to grab something from the kitchen, occasionally I’ll even be super organised and prepare it the night before, then usually I’ll hot foot it back upstairs to return to my laptop screen and what I was doing.

The trouble with taking this approach on a regular basis is: it’s bad for your health and your waistline.

Research from Bristol University reveals how eating at your screen can lead to you eating twice as much as the day continues. The reason for this is, not too dissimilar from why it’s bad to eat your dinner in front of the TV too; the distraction of focusing on the screen makes you eat more.

When you decide not to take a break to eat your lunch and choose to cram in eating around reading emails or watching a soap repeat for 30 minutes, your tummy does not realise when it’s pleasantly full. Instead, you continue to feel a little peckish and will be prone to snacking in the afternoon. On this front, I’m guilty as charged, as I’m currently eating a biscuit while typing this.

My next week resolution starting Monday is to start taking a lunch break every day…who’s with me?