Google Rolling Out “Symptom Search” Feature In Effort To Simplify Medical Queries

While talking to your doctor is the only way to get a definitive answer about medical issues, let’s face it, we all turn to the internet when we’re not feeling well and aren’t sure what’s going on with the rash that just appeared. That’s why Google is adding a “Symptom Search” feature that seeks to connect folks with more information what could be going on.

Simply searching symptoms, like a headache, can bring up a plethora of results, many of which could be confusing or use complicated medical terms. Or it makes you think you’ve definitely got something really, really bad.

To circumvent that scary feeling, and because about 1% of searches on Google — that’s millions — are symptom-related, Google is launching a Symptom Search feature that will show a list of related conditions when you type in what you’re feeling.

So for example, Google says, if you’ve had a headache all day and you’re not sure if it’ll go away on its own or if you should seek medical advice, and you type in “headache on one side,” a list of related conditions like “headache,” “migraine,” “tension headache,” “cluster headache,” “sinusitis,” and “common cold” will pop up.

If you simply type in “headache,” you’ll also get an overview of what that is, as well as information on self-treatment options and what might warrant a doctor’s visit.

“That said, symptom search (like all medical information on Google) is intended for informational purposes only, and you should always consult a doctor for medical advice,” Google notes.

Google created the list of symptoms by looking for health conditions mentioned in web results, and then checking them against medical information it’s collected from doctors for its Knowledge Graph.

“We worked with a team of medical doctors to carefully review the individual symptom information, and experts at Harvard Medical School and Mayo Clinic evaluated related conditions for a representative sample of searches to help improve the lists we show,” Google adds.

Symptom Search will be rolling out on mobile over the next few days, in English in the U.S. to start, with other languages and locations expected at a later date.

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