Let's be honest, we've all sat at our computers plugging in various symptoms to WebMd in an effort to find out what that weird mark on our back is or why our cough won't go away. Somehow both answers lead us to "you have cancer or you're already dead."
Yes, the Internet has armed us with a wealth of information, making us all believe we're doctors and perfectly capable of self-diagnosis. If it says it on Yahoo Answers, it must be true, amirite?
No. Doctors go to medical school and not Google school for a reason. There's a lot to learn—and nothing proves that more than this image challenge quiz we recently discovered, created by the New England Journal of Medicine, which asks users, "What's the Diagnosis?"
The quiz works like this: it shows you a gross photo of a medical condition and asks you to pick the correct diagnosis. And yes, we're pretty sure the quiz is aimed at doctors, researchers, and medical professionals considering its use of terms like "Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency" or "Angioneurotic edema."
It's a pretty fun to play around with—who doesn't like looking at grotesque photos of medical conditions? But it also highlights just how little we, as lay people, know.
For instance, this very disturbing image of moldy-looking feet is actually one of the following: (1) Dermatopathia pigmentosa reticularis, (2) Lichen planus, (3) Psoriasis, (4) Rubella, or (5) Keratoderma blennorrhagicum. Care to take a guess?*
Or how about this seemingly simple skin rash (below), which is actually one of these five things: (1) Acute parotitis, (2) Angioneurotic edema, (3) Ludwig's angina, (4) Penicillin allergy, or (5) Peritonsillar abscess. Do you know which one it is? **
Didn't think so. A well-trained medical doctor, on the other hand, has the ability to diagnose that condition just by looking at it. Meanwhile, on WebMD, I typed in "male 35 to 44 with skin rash on the neck and chest," and the results revealed that I could have anything from poison ivy to the plague. Yes, "plague" was an option. The actual answer** was not an option.
Which is why studies have shown that self-diagnosis actually leads people to think every minor bump and bruise is something terminal like cancer—when it's usually not. Thus causing extreme and widespread anxiety.
Moral of the story: Leave it to the professionals, folks. And feel free to check out the disgusting images of various body parts in the quiz!
* The answer is Keratoderma blennorrhagicum. "These vesiculopustular waxy lesions are most consistent with keratoderma blennorrhagicum. This finding should prompt diagnostic testing for sexually transmitted or gastrointestinal pathogens." Duh.
** The answer is Ludwig's angina, "An infectious process involving the submental, sublingual, and submandibular spaces. It can rapidly progress to hemodynamic instability and airway obstruction. Immediate consideration should be given to surgical débridement of the infected areas and antimicrobial therapy." So easy.
Taryn Hillin is Fusion's love and sex writer, with a large focus on the science of relationships. She also loves dogs, Bourbon barrel-aged beers and popcorn — not necessarily in that order.