I was thinking a lot about the discussion topic from today’s class of social media’s impact on health and I disliked the coversation took a very negative turn towards people using the internet to become hypochondriacs and so on. I believed that social media can have a very positive impact on health promotion. For instance, people can become members of fitness support groups on Facebook or follow health experts on Twitter to find out facts about how to be healthy. There is also a huge health promoting trend on sites such as Pinterest where many people have boards devoted to the sharing of easy, time effective workouts and recipes for healthy food or tips on how to lose weight the healthy way or how to eat right or stay safe from the sun. Punchfork is an online recipe-sharing community that is coded to indicate allergens and dietary components and many of the main posters run health blogs and the recipes are health conscious. There are also a very wide array of health and fitness apps that track workouts or help you watch your calorie intake and see what nutrients are in the foods you are choosing (both are a function of the MyFitnessPal app) and there are general wellness apps like Fig which allow you to set general wellness goals like to drink 8 glasses of water per day, to take the stairs instead of the elevator, or to sleep 8 hours per night. All of these tools put the power in the hands of people and yes, not everyone has access to the internet or a smartphone so that is a problem but for the general population who does, these are amazing tools and they are free. Social media allows people to keep track of their health and also to keep up with health news through applications and social sites solely devoted to health promotion. It is a way for people to connect with people who have similar health promotion goals and views and gain social support. It is a clear example of creating power-within because social media promotes self-knowledge and a perceived control over one’s personal life.
Also, as for patients diagnosing themselves due to not being heard by physicians, I do believe this is somewhat the case. I do have WebMD app on my phone (mostly because it has first aid information) but I do sometimes check my symptoms online because there were two cases where physicans were not listening to what was actually wrong. The first was after my workplace accident. I went to the emergency room because we don’t have a family doctor and I was in Cambridge for the summer, the doctor hurriedly listened to me describe the accident and took x-rays of my ribs which he determined were likely cracked in a few places and said the pain in my shoulder was likely just temporary pulled muscles. I went back to a different emergency room, this time in my neighbouring town, three weeks later when I still couldn’t work normally and the pain in my shoulder and spread down my arm and I couldn’t move my fingers in the hand on that side. This doctor spent more time examining my shoulder and listening to what I said and determined it was likely a rotator cuff injury and sent me to physio. However, after having physiotherapy and seeing a couple more doctors over the period of time between now and then (it’s been almost two years since my accident), I still have pain and limited range of movement and capabilities in my left arm. The internet tells me it could be a whole variety of things but I find it reassuring when doctors won’t give me any answers.
The other example is more simple: I found a lump in my neck and went to the doctor and told her that I had this lump and I’d been extremely tired lately to the point of falling asleep in all my classes. She said it was likely just a cold and sent me home. I went home and looked up my symptoms and found out it sounded a lot like I had mono. A week later when I was very ill, I went back to Student Health Services where a different doctor told me that I did in fact have mono.
Also, when it was mentioned about preventing accidents and taking prevention too far, it reminded me of the video I attached to this post which was sourced from Youtube and originally aired on Saturday Night Live, January 26