If you’re like most people, you probably went to a search engine to answer a health-related question at some point over the past few years. Maybe you found some valuable information and maybe you were misled. But why does everyone rely on Google searches first? The simple answer is that going to the doctor’s office takes time while an internet search is as close as your smart phone.

Asking Dr. Google may be convenient. But that convenience comes at a cost. Looking up the reasons for simple aches and pains can yield some pretty scary results that may send you careening to the nearest emergency room. But chances are, you don’t have that rare disease or a symptom of cancer.

You need to stop relying on convenience and start relying on trusted professionals. Google searches provide too much misinformation. For example, if you shift through numerous websites for information, you’ll find everything from the National Institutes of Health to “mommy bloggers.” Who would you trust? Use caution while reading blogs, which may not be written by someone with a medical background, let alone a degree.

Dr. Google Doesn’t Have All the Answers … or All the Right Ones

If you use Google searches to inform yourself, beware the featured snippet that shows up before the results. First of all, they may not be 100 percent true. Second, these easy answers can come from questionable sources — companies that are actually trying to misinform you to sell their products. One example reports that salmonella poisoning won’t affect your pregnancy, when many doctors urge pregnant women to avoid raw eggs.

Take back pain as another example When it comes to your spine health, you can’t afford to fool around. Yet Dr. Google may display any of the following as the cause of your back pain:

  • Slipped disc
  • Bone cancer
  • Spinal tumor
  • Sciatica
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • And many more

The reason Dr. Google isn’t as good as your doctor is that you get these same results for something as simple as a pulled muscle or ligament as you would for actually having one of these serious conditions. You need a real doctor, performing a physical exam and asking the right questions, to get an accurate diagnosis.

Self-Diagnosing Caveats

Diagnosing your own symptoms can be difficult. You can over-diagnose — and jump straight to Stage 4 cancer. This not only causes you undue stress, these Google searches can also make you think you have every disease ever known. It can be hard to know what to think from most Google searches.

Potentially worse is under-diagnosing. As a child, most people were told “to get up and brush it off,” which is fine for scrapes and bumps. But this kind of treatment can be dangerous. Seemingly innocent symptoms may actually be early warning signs of cancer or other serious diseases. The point is that you can’t know what your condition is or why your back hurts like it does through a simple internet search. You need a medical doctor whose name isn’t “Dr. Google.”

What Your Doctor Can Do That Google Searches Can’t

First off, remember that Dr. Google doesn’t have a medical degree. Your doctor wants to heal you. Medical care is usually more than just a job to your doctor; it’s a passion. Your doctor listens to your review of symptoms, analyzes them and backs up any diagnosis with tests and a physical examination. He lists the possible reasons for your pain without going anywhere near the ones that are too absurd to mention.

It’s your doctor’s job to diagnose your actual problem, not just slap a bandage on it. Also, your doctor can write you a prescription, unlike Dr. Google. And you can expect to get the correct type of medicine and the proper amount. Your doctor has your back even when Dr. Google doesn’t.