Dr Google is a great way of risking your health

Allan Reinikka

HEALTH officials have issued a warning against sniffing out flu advice on the internet and on social media.

New figures show an increasing number of people are going online for health advice and there are concerns more Australians won't be getting the right information about how to prevent or treat winter illness.

Nambour GP Dr Wayne Herdy said while doctors were happy patients were keeping themselves well informed, the problem with researching on the internet was incorrect self-diagnosis.

"If you are retrieving information from an incredible source it is more likely incorrect," Dr Herdy said.

"And even researching from an authenticated or reliable source can be difficult as they, although reliable, are not always comprehensible to someone not working in the field."

Medibank's Chief Medical Officer Dr Ian Boyd said the tips, advice and sheer amount of information online was confusing and urged anyone needing advice on how to prevent or treat colds and flu to get professional advice.

"A simple web search for cold and flu advice comes up with a range of different symptoms and cures," he said.

"Some sites even warn of the dangers of flu shots, while others offer less than conventional advice on how to ward off the common cold.

"Preventing and treating these ailments is not rocket science, but people need to get trusted medical advice, and make sure if their symptoms do persist to make an appointment to see a real-life doctor."

Topics:  doctors healthcare illness vaccinations

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