How Do You Look up Medical Symptoms?


Quick Answer

To look up medical symptoms, consult an online symptom checker, plug in the symptoms you're experiencing and let the checker provide you with a list of possible diagnoses. There are online symptom checkers run by WebMD, the Mayo Clinic and the American Academy of Pediatrics, according to the Atlantic.

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Full Answer

Online symptom checkers are a popular way for many people to get medical information. They allow users to determine possible conditions based on their symptoms as well as make better informed decisions regarding their medical care. The WebMD symptom checker also lets users print an informational report to give to their doctors.

Symptom checkers are to be regarded for informational purposes only and are not a reliable substitute for professional medical diagnosis or treatment. According to a study published in the BMJ, most symptom checkers vary greatly in accuracy. Harvard Medical School researchers and scientists from Boston Children's Hospital tested 23 symptom checkers with 45 actual patient conditions. On average, the symptom checkers listed the correct diagnosis within the top three results only 51 percent of the time and in the top twenty results 58 percent of the time.

Symptom checkers provide insight into possible conditions but should be treated only as a preliminary step before seeking professional medical treatment.

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