Please, Don’t Try This At Home

So, I’m sure most everyone is familiar with WebMD, the on-line database of illness. Probably most people are sensible enough to know that a web site doesn’t qualify you to diagnose yourself, but probably most of you, like me, still try it anyway.

Last night, my throat was sore. I assumed it was from the soccer game, where I hadn’t screamed a lot but had probably talked more then usual. I dismissed it. But this morning, my throat was worse. My tonsils are pretty swollen.

I went to WebMD.

To my geeky joy, they have a new interactive feature which lets you describe your symptoms and generates a list of possible causes. So I did. Sore throat. Cough. Pain. I didn’t think I had a fever. I put down “trouble swallowing” too, until a helpful box told me that clinical trouble swallowing, unlike normal people trouble swallowing, is actually choking, and so needs immediate medical attention. So I took that one off.

To my surprise, there were easily twenty ailments I could potentially have. The first few were the likely culprits I was hoping I didn’t have (tonsillitis, strep throat, etc), so I moved down the list to a friendly looking one that started with e- and ended with -itis.

May cause death if not treated immediately!

I was shocked! A mere sore throat? Luckily, before I called the ambulance and started on my will, I read a little further. Turns out that particular -itis is from a flap, which usually prevents food and drink from going down the wrong tube, swells and blocks both tubes. I checked, found I was not, in fact, suffocating, and decided that I would be better off waiting a day and, if necessary, seeking a doctor (a breathing one).

The moral of my story is, even if you must go to WebMD to consider all the horrible things you might have, don’t actually believe any of it?

Oh, and, if you’re suffocating, please please just call and ambulance, as WebMD is not CPR certified.

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