Doctors see a lot of fascinating cases every day, but when patients come in claiming they know what they have already thanks to the Internet, doctors know things are about to get interesting. We're all guilty of looking up our symptoms on the Internet. Nine times out of ten, the Internet is wrong, but these doctors of Reddit have seen the worst of it.
Content has been edited for clarity.
"Paramedic student here. Last week we had a call for an imminent delivery. A patient started having abdominal pain that would last a little and stop. And about two or three minutes later would start again. She googled her symptoms and everything she found was saying she was in labor. She called her husband, and he told her to call 911. We walked in as the baby was crowning. She had no idea she was pregnant."
"My dad was told his kidney cancer had spread to his brain, and he had five tumors there he was told it was game over. He had maybe weeks or months left because kidney cancer didn't respond to chemotherapy and the meds he was on weren't touching it anymore. Basically whilst it was handling the cancer in his body, it wasn't getting past the brain blood barrier to deal with things up there. So they would keep growing and kill him.
I spent some serious time on Google and went back to my parents' house the next day with questions about a treatment known as 'gamma knife' or 'cyber knife' treatment. They went back to the consultant and asked why this wasn't an option so that we could all be certain every avenue had been explored. Turns out the consultant just hadn't considered it as an option and it was completely viable for my dad. He had two rounds of treatment and in the end they found 13 tumors in his brain. It successfully killed all 13 tumors. He had another six months with us before sepsis finally got the better of him in the summer. If I hadn't Googled and done my homework we wouldn't have had those extra six months.
Doctors are people too, sometimes they miss things. I always assume they are right but I also like to get them to explain to me why something I have seen is incorrect or not an option, so I can be sure every option has been investigated. Nothing worse than looking back ten years later and wondering."
"My dad's an ophthalmologist. One of his patients (dude in his 50s) had a glass eye and the area became infected. My dad asked the guy if he had been cleaning the area correctly. The patient said he saw on Google he should clean the area with his own urine to keep it sanitary and to prevent infection.
My dad was baffled and obviously told him to go back to the regular (doctor-approved) cleansing method immediately. The infection 'magically' went away as soon as the patient stopped pouring his pee in his eye."
"I had a grade school kid tell me he had a brain tumor. He was 9 or 10, no stupider than your average 9-or-10-year-old. Turns out, he put a dried bean in his ear and forgot about it.
He didn't really have a reason why, but they'd been using beans for some counting thing in math at school. It came out with tweezers. This was years ago, and he has probably forgotten all about it, unless his mom reminds him periodically (I would.)"
"Had a 19-year-old girl come in asking for anti-fungal medication because she was convinced she had thrush. She and her boyfriend had Googled her symptoms, and at 19 you're never wrong. When I suggested that perhaps we check to rule out mono, she looked at me like I was actively drooling on myself and refused, because there was, 'No way I can have mono.'
I eventually convinced her to have some diagnostic testing done, and sure enough, she had mono. I tried to explain that having thrush as a 19-years-old could possibly be much more concerning than mononucleosis, but she didn't seem to get it.
I will give the caveat that if a patient volunteers that they were looking up their symptoms online, I'll always ask them what they think they have and why. This can sometimes give insight to symptoms or concerns they may not have let on about that help me to make a correct diagnosis. Besides, taking an active role in your health is certainly not a bad thing. As long as you're not being a prick and acting as if I'm some moron, I welcome that kind of discussion."
"I'm a dentist and I had a patient come into my office, absolutely certain he only had gingivitis and needed a normal cleaning all because he had googled his symptoms and believed he could get a normal clean and go back home and do oil pulling after, which would somehow miraculously heal his gums.
He would not allow me to take x-rays or deep clean his teeth, which he needed because plaque was formed well below his gums. He even told me his gums were bleeding from just smiling, moving his mouth, etc. He insisted on just a regular clean and then accused me of trying to make money off him when I basically put my foot down and said I wouldn't be working on his mouth unless he allowed me to do my job properly. I was glad when he decided to walk out and never come back!"
"My cousin had a baby and didn't know she was pregnant. She went to the doctor one afternoon for severe back pain and cramping and even that doctor missed it. Said it was a kidney infection.
We were texting that night, and she told me things like 'I have gas bad enough I can see my stomach moving,' and 'I hurt so much I feel like my pelvis is splitting in two,' and 'I'm never having kids if labor is anything like this.' She said if she didn't feel better by morning, she was going to the emergency room.
Next day comes and I don't hear anything from her. Finally, around 10 that night she texts me all 'I don't know if you've been on Facebook in the last ten minutes or so, but I posted some pics. I had a baby a few hours ago.'
He was 30 weeks when he was born, and she wasn't a big girl but not exactly small, but she wasn't showing. He was born booty first and the doctor said he'd been laying sideways all the way at the back of the uterus.
For such an early preemie, he did remarkably well. He was in NICU for about a month before he came home, and as far as I know, has no lasting effects of being born so early like some do. He's a happy, healthy, silly, energetic 6-year-old now."
"I'm not a doctor, but I'm a medical assistant and I interview patients for the doctor. This is in the occupational health field, and we had a young gentleman come in who was pretty sure he had a groin hernia according to his Google search. He said he'd been lifting produce crates and experienced sharp, overwhelming pain in his groin. The doctor came back out after seeing him and was clearly fighting laughter by the time he got to the desk. Turns out the kid had the clap which had caused things to become swollen and just happened to get symptomatic while he was at work."
"I had an insect bite basically next to my nip. It was itching like crazy, and my usual bite cream said not to be used on nips, so I decided to Google what else I could do to relieve it. Found out that apparently no one else has ever had an insect bite on their nip, but that what looks like an insect bite on or right next to your nip is almost certainly inflammatory cancer.
I phoned up my doctor (we used to be neighbors, so I kind of knew him) and was in a right state because I thought I had this incredibly aggressive form of cancer. He listened to me for a minute, asked a couple of questions and then said, 'It's an insect bite. Come back to me if it's still there in three weeks. Oh, and try deodorant on it.'
The deodorant calmed it right down, and it had gone by about five days afterwards."
"Not a doctor, but in 2013 I was feeling awful. Shaking, puking/dry heaving, shaking, excruciating and debilitating pain. Went to the emergency room, had blood work done that I never knew what it said, and the doctor told me it was a gallbladder attack. He gave me pain meds and sent me home.
Three days later I was even worse. I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, the only relief I felt was when I was in scalding hot bath. I finally went back to the hospital and they did more blood work and told me my gallbladder was septic and my pancreatic enzymes were 6,500 and rising (they should have only been 100-150) and I was dying. I was admitted and when they did my gallbladder removal, my gallbladder was solid black and had 80 stones and a tar like substance from sepsis.
Come to find out the first time I went to the emergency room, my enzymes were 2,000, I should never have been allowed to leave the hospital."
"I had a UTI, because I had the symptoms and Googled it. Day of doctor appointment, it was just a regular check up. But I asked for a UTI test since I explained how I was feeling. The conversation went like this:
'Could it be possible to request a UTI testing? I've been feeling the symptoms of burning when I pee and some discomfort-'
'How do you feel now? Any pain?'
'Well, no, not at the -'
'Well, if you did have a UTI, the symptoms wouldn't go away. You are fine.'
Two or so days later I get a full-blown kidney infection from, who would have guessed, a UTI. Sent out a complaint. I always ask for a test if I am suspicious of anything and I have them document it if they say no from now on. That was a horrible experience."
"I am currently in med school. When I was about 12 years old, I felt a painless lump inside my nip. I thought this was something of low importance, so I continued to live my life. A few days later, when I was in the shower, I felt another painless lump inside my other nip. I thought this was weird, so I decided to google my symptoms. I thought about cancer, and I knew it was a low chance of me having it, but I decided to look up some signs of the cancer. And there it was, In my exact words. 'Symptoms of cancer include a painless lump in the chest.'
I was terrified. I informed my parents, and I was in tears. I didn't know what my future would look like, and this thought shook me even more. Would I ever become a doctor? I then searched for treatments of cancer on Google, and it said the only treatment was to amputate that section of the chest. I was even more torn. The next day my mom showed me an article about my 'cancer,' and it turns out that I was just going through puberty, and this was completely normal. To this day, my family and I still laugh about the incident."
"Not a doctor. But my girlfriend was feeling a strong sharp pain around her stomach in the middle of the night. I google it and in my opinion it was a kidney stone or maybe something gynecological related. I wasn't sure of anything but I had acquired enough knowledge to know that it might be bad, and we had to do something.
So we went to the hospital. We waited hours and hours until we saw a doctor, and she asked her, 'Can you rate your pain in a scale from 1 to 10?' My girlfriend responded, '7' and then she looked at her for a second and said while laughing a bit: 'well...no, your face doesn't look like a 7' and she left.
Another doctor concluded it was just a gastroenteritis and give her some paracetamol after we had waited a full night at the hospital, and then we left. She was still in a lot of pain, maybe more.
At this moment I gave up. In my opinion a gastroenteritis shouldn't cause that much pain but I trusted the doctor diagnosis. Because he is a doctor. Andhe had years of study and practice behind him. Unlike us.
But two days latter, she passed a huge kidney stone from her urethra while screaming at the top of her lungs. She had never felt so much pain in her all life! (some say it's more painful than giving birth).
We saw a lot of different doctors during the whole night, and no one had listened to my suggestions."
"I woke up one morning with abdominal pain and had been out partying the night before. The internet said abdominal pain could occur with the substance that I was ingesting, so I didn't worry too much, but then I got an intense fever during an exam that morning and had to leave. Started throwing up shortly after and 'toughed it out' for the night.
Went in with 'flu-like symptoms' the next day and the doctor told me that it was probably just the flu. In my immeasurable wisdom, I withheld the fact that I had been experiencing abdominal pain because I thought it was related to the med use and not to the sickness / other symptoms.
However, since I'd been sick for about 48 hours, he put me in the hospital overnight to replenish fluids...and that's about the time that my appendix ruptured. Worst pain I've ever experienced. One time, I broke my leg and the chick asked if it felt like I was being stabbed with a knife and I said, 'I don't know, I've never been stabbed with a knife'...a ruptured appendix feels like you've been stabbed with a knife.
The surgeon said he had never seen a worse rupture. Took two surgeries, 11 days in the hospital, and I got the pleasure of using a catheter. Moral of the story: If your body feels like it's trying to kill you, go to the doctor immediately and tell them everything that could help the diagnosis."
"Not a doctor, but a paramedic. We got a call from a man who thought he had a stroke because Google said it, so we drove to the address with an ambulance and an emergency doctor. When we entered the apartment, there was a massive guy around 30 years old and he was crying like a child. He had a numb feeling on the left side of his face but blood pressure, heart rate, and other functions were normal for a man his age. We told him that we would lay an IV just in case we would have to give him any medication on the way to the hospital and that was when he lost his mind and started screaming and cried even more (I had to hold his hand during the procedure to calm him down). On the way he told us, that he doesn't like doctors and googled what he could take against his back pain a few weeks ago and that e takes up to 3 different painkillers ,which must be prescribed by a doctor, since then every day. We guess he just had a light overreaction to medication he didn't need to take."
"My brother is both the doctor and the patient in my story. Around two months ago, he started to feel exhausted and ill, like really ill. He told his partner that he 'felt like he had leukemia,' which was of course just kind of shrugged off because 'why/how would he have leukemia?!' He had been suffering with a throat infection for a few weeks and was given antibiotics by a GP at his practice. After a week or so it hadn’t helped, and he was tired and slightly breathless whilst walking the dog one Sunday afternoon.
The next morning he registered himself as a patient and took his own bloods (after being prompted by his receptionist, parents, doctor friend) and sent them for testing. Unfortunately, he was correct, and when his results returned, he saw that he did have leukemia. Acute Myeloid Leukemia to be precise. He saw the results and knew immediately. As he went to confirm them with the doctor next door, the specialist hospital had already called and asked for 'the patient' to be brought into hospital immediately.
Unfortunately, his hemoglobin levels and general cell count were so low, and he was in a bad way. Many transfusions and one round of chemotherapy down, and he is determined to beat this horrible disease. He still has a long way to go, but he won’t give up and neither will we. I love that guy so much and wish I could trade places with him. There’s potential that I may be used as his bone marrow donor, I hope I can be because anything I can do to help, I want to do (it’s not too likely to be me but I feel so helpless right now so it would be good to help, I guess)."
"Student Nurse here: I picked up a shift in the Emergency Department as a healthcare assistant. I completed a triage of a 19-year-old student on a Monday, which is one of the worst days of the week on account of the really poorly behaved people and just utterly terrible.
The student said she suffered 'abdominal pain and vomiting' the previous morning. I asked what brought her in today. She said 'well Google said so' I was like okay... I told the practitioners and the leading triage Nurse. The student then proceeded to tell the nurse she was vomiting, mere hours after getting home from night out. Apparently she hadn't realized drinking too much could make you vomit. Poor girl. A three-year drinking binge (student life) and she didn't realize vomiting was a symptom of drinking, she had a lot to learn.
I know I'm a student myself, I'm a mature student myself so you know, I've been there done that and got the t-shirt."
"Had my first migraine aged 11. Mum came home from the shop one morning to find me curled around the toilet throwing up violently. She tried to give me some liquid paracetamol for the headache (which I promptly threw back up) and rushed me to the GP. GP had me admitted to hospital for appendicitis. I have no idea why she thought this was the case. The pain was in my skull, and I obviously felt nauseous, but no pain or tenderness anywhere else in my body.
Got to hospital where they took one look at me and said yup, that's one doozy of a migraine. Since I couldn't keep painkillers down the traditional way they stuck two paracetamol up my bum and put me to bed to sleep it off. They discharged me to the care of my mum that evening and I was right as rain the next day.
Years later I had another GP send me off to hospital with suspected appendicitis after I developed a very tender, very sore infected hair follicle around the area one would expect to see pain in appendicitis. At least that one made more sense. I'm afraid one of these days the doc is gonna send me off and it actually will be appendicitis!"
"I had a septate hymen, (google, it’s hard to explain) but didn’t know what it was called, and just tried to tell the doctor I thought I had an extra piece of skin that wasn’t supposed to be there. My doctor must have decided that I was just an insecure teen girl thinking there was something wrong with me, so she inspected and declared that I was a 'perfectly normal female' and that there was 'nothing preventing (me) from using a tampon.'
Two months later, I tried to do the deed for the first time and that thing that didn’t exist broke. In my panicked googling, I finally found what it’s called, and turns out that girls like me can get a tampon in, but will have to go to the emergency room when it expands and doesn’t come out.
When I finally saw my doctor, so she could give me a referral to get the extra skin removed, I told her that I had a septate hymen (had seen another doctor while she was on vacation to confirm this) and that it had broken. She replied 'well I’m the doctor here, so I’ll say what you have' but luckily in the end she agreed that I was right, never addressing how I had come in months earlier, and she could have saved me all that stress and worry, but instead she gave advice that I’m extremely glad I didn’t follow."