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A symtom checker is an online tool used to help educate and explain to users about what certain symptoms can potentially mean. Symptom checkers can vary according to the website, but the general symptom checker has a step by step process to pin-point the symptom. This process often prompts the user for his/her sex, age, the part of the body where symptoms are occurring, and a specific symptom. Then a list of possible conditions is provided. The user can then click on each condition and information is provided such as causes and remedies. Symtom chekcers are not meant to take the place of visiting a physican but instead meant to help zone in on what specific symtoms can mean and if a visit to a phsycian is needed.

Applications:

It is used to pin-point various symptoms and then provides the user with a list of conditions that may be associated with that symptom. This helps the users decipher if there is a need to visit his/her phsycian. Symptom checks are now used for a broader range of medical application outside of the doctor's office. Now there are checkers designed to test symptoms of a pet or menopause. For more social concerns there are flu checkers. With the growing awareness of information and checkers, users can design and utilize these tools at will. Offical checkers have disclaimers on them such as this: Symptom Checker - Disclaimer. This does not stop other non-offical users from creating their own sites with perhaps faulty or unreliable data. The other hidden danger is rooted in psychology. Too much information can be misleading, even if correct, due to its subjective nature. A product of this growth is Cyberchondria, which investigations have described as a complusive need to search the web for possible matches to symptoms.

Web Resources:
Symptom Checker | Live Strong.com
Symptom Check from Web MD
Symptom Checker from MyOptumHealth.com
Cyberchondria: Studies of the Escalation of Medical Concerns in Web Search
New York Times | Microsoft Examines Causes of ‘Cyberchondria’

Related Terminology:

Medical symptoms, WebMD

Citations/References:
http://www.livestrong.com/tools/symptom-checker/
http://symptoms.webmd.com/
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