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Self-Diagnosis Online: A Quarter Have Misdiagnosed Thanks To Internet

At the first sign of something amiss in their bodies, almost everyone does the same thing -- they rush to the computer and type in the terrifying symptoms. But unsurprisingly, a new study has found almost one-quarter of women in Britain have misdiagnosed and treated themselves wrongly thanks to the information they've found online.

The study, commissioned by vaginal infection treatment brand Balance Activ, found half of the 1,000 women surveyed would check the Internet before going to their doctors if they found their symptoms embarrassing -- and a quarter of the respondents would follow treatments plans devised solely from their research.

Released in honour of BV (Bacterial Vaginosis) Day in the U.K., the company aimed to educate women about the real symptoms of this common condition, a bacterial infection in the vagina that can, in its most serious cases, increase the risk of STDs, infertility and miscarriage. The company's symptom checker is meant to help determine which infection a woman might have -- but advises them to always check with their GP for a full diagnosis.

Previous research has also found that when symptoms are listed consecutively on a site, people tend to believe they're suffering from the illness or disease described.

But the news isn't all bad, all the time -- doctors have also seen the benefits of directing patients to websites that can truly help them find out more about their illnesses and take charge of their health care. And if IBM has their way, in a few years we could all be using supercomputer Watson as our primary medical professional anyway.

SEE: The most common misdiagnosed illnesses online according to Balance Activ:

Most Commonly Misdiagnosed Online Illnesses
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