Does Self Diagnosis Work?

Self-diagnosis can be a risky business. The chance of misdiagnosing your problem is high, therefore preventing you from seeking the proper treatment.

With the abundant information available on the internet, it is tempting to become a ‘Google Doctor’, and diagnose ourselves using the hundreds of often medically inaccurate forums, blogs and websites available online.

For all but the most common symptoms and ailments, we strongly recommend seeking professional medical advice before treating your complaint.

Common Symptoms & Ailments

Of course, there is no need to rush to the doctor when you feel the symptoms of the common cold coming on. We can all identify the symptoms of common ailments like the cold ourselves, and pick up the necessary treatments from our local pharmacy.

Some of us suffer from ongoing problems and complaints, and don’t need to consult a professional each time the symptoms recur – joint and muscle problems, skin irritations to name a few.

If you have any doubts or concerns, though, particularly when it comes to young children, pregnant women, the elderly and other at risk patients, you should consult your doctor for more specialist help.


Can’t get to the doctor during surgery hours? Check out our list of out-of-hours medical centres in East Berkshire.


When Self-Diagnosis Goes Wrong

There are two main ways self-diagnosis can go terribly wrong – Over-diagnosis or under-diagnosis. Both can have serious implications on your health and wellbeing.


1. Under-diagnosis

Failing to properly identify your illness when self-diagnosing can have serious implications.

Let us put a scenario to you. Imagine your child was displaying a fever, and you self-diagnosed and decided it was not serious. Imagine it turned out to be meningitis? There are many very serious causes of fever, as well as non-serious ones.

Underdiagnosis can prevent you from seeking the right medical attention or the correct treatment. Illnesses can end up lasting much longer than they should, or worse, if left untreated, can cause serious debilitation.


2. Over-diagnosis

Overdiagnosis can be similarly dangerous. Attributing symptoms incorrectly to serious illnesses can cause unnecessary anxiety and depression, can put a strain on precious medical resources, and puts you at risk if you are taking treatments that you shouldn’t be.

Self-diagnosis is fool hardy for a number of reasons. Firstly, you are not an expert – a doctor can correctly identify symptoms can spot ones that you haven’t. A doctor has seen these symptoms many times before, so can better access their severity, and attribute them correctly to your condition. Illness can also impair you ability to make judgments, too, so you could have misinterpreted your symptoms completely.

The best course of action – if you are in any doubt, or are worried about any new symptoms – consult a doctor.


If you can’t make it to a doctor in surgery hours, try one of the out-of-hours medical centres in East Berkshire listed on our website.