Google reveals top health searches in New York City

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By Ivan Pereira

When it comes to getting info on an ailment, New Yorkers are more concerned about what to do when they catch the flu than they are with the measles.

Google revealed the top health-related searches for the winter and the “flu,” “bronchitis” and “celiac’s disease” were among the top. The tech giant, which updated its search engine to give users a more in-depth search into their health-related questions, said those searches represent one out of 20 inquiries on Google.

Medical experts said the increase in people gathering data on their ailments can be both a blessing and a curse.

“Sometimes, the information can be overwhelming and complex. The average person is not a Ph.D or a doctor,” said Steven Lamm, medical director of the Tisch Center for Men’s Health at NYU Langone Medical Center.

The other top Google health searches include “Lyme disease,” “pneumonia symptoms,” “legionnaires disease,” “graves disease,” and “lupus symptoms.”

Dr. Jay Varrma, deputy commissioner for disease control at the city Health Department, said it’s impossible to determine precisely what causes specific disease searches to trend, though media coverage plays a significant role.

“We live in a very diverse city so the searches you have in the city will be varied,” he said. “One news story about an uncommon issue can get a lot of people to search about it immediately.”

Prem Ramaswami, a Google product manager, said that push for medical information prompted the company to come up with a better way to disseminate info to its users. Ramaswami’s team worked with several medical professionals and the Mayo Clinic to develop a new function that provides an interactive graphic after a health-related search. Lamm cautioned thatno one can accurately diagnose a disease on data alone.

“Information is always valuable, but there is a difference between getting information and self diagnosis,” he said.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 11th, 2015 at 3:22 pm and is filed under amNewYork, Feature, Print Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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