The Doctor Is In

His name is Google, Dr. Google. Is he an M.D.? Well, not really. He may have taken courses on YouTube University. He does have access to YouTube; they are under the same roof. Google bought YouTube back in 2006. There is a YouTube video available on open heart surgery aortic valve replace, for example. Why then is allowing Dr. Google to be your primary care physician a problem?

A number of medical doctors, real ones, claim one of their problems in combating the coronavirus is that too many of their patients are diagnosing themselves via Google, Facebook, GreenMedInfo, Real Farmacy and word of mouth – friend or foe. Depending upon your political affiliation that could mean listening to Dr. Trump, a man who relies on his gut not science, which could be the cause of diarrhea of the mouth, or a well-meaning witch doctor. Abracadabra is certainly more affordable than co-pays, deductibles, or drugs. A cliché is appropriate here: Sometimes you get what you pay for.

Too often these sources spread false information, misinformation, and disinformation. What do these three have in common? Bad data can make you sick, keep you sick, or make you sicker. All of which can lead to the Big Adios.

There are many examples of false information filling the air waves, competing for space with lies, germs and beneficial molecules, including chemical compounds like odors. What stinks and what doesn’t? Sometimes it is hard to tell.

Take masks, for example, and that’s apparently what many Americans want someone to do. Take the damn things – despite being warned that face masks are one of our best defenses against the coronavirus right now.

Some “falsies” claim masks reduce the amount of oxygen people take in. According to the American Lung Association, that is not true. Masks are designed to be breathed through. There is no evidence that low oxygen levels occur. People with pre-existing lung conditions, like asthma or COPD, should discuss mask wearing concerns with their health care providers, not friends or foes on or off Twitter. There is no evidence that mask wearing weakens the immune system.

Mask wearing could increase CO2 levels, leaving mask wearers feeling faint, light-headed or “smothered.” NOT SO, according to the National Institute of Health. Carbon dioxide is a natural by-product of the body’s respiration process, something we all breathe in and out every day. Inhaling high levels may be life-threatening, but it must be very high, far higher than what is normally in our atmosphere.

Google and YouTube can provide excellent information. I have used Dr. Google – he has great office hours and no deductible. Dr. Google has helped with definitions and explanations, so I can ask my doctor better questions. Having good information can help a patient learn more from a primary care provider. A wealth of good data is available on numerous websites set up by associations, non-profits, hospitals, and the like. Find good, reputable sources that provide much needed facts and information, and you are often better prepared.

To come out on the other side of the pandemic, all of us must be very cautious about our sources and be willing to take the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe. Watch the YouTube video on open heart surgery but keep your pocketknife where it belongs.

 

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