In the age of online searches, health conditions and symptoms are often simply imputed into a search engine instead of first calling the doctor's office to see if it's something about which you should be concerned. Like just about everything, there are pros and cons to this, of course. Now, people are able to learn far more about conditions than they easily could before, as well as read stories about people who are going through the same thing or essays about what it's like to live with a certain diagnosis. The trendy health problems people are suddenly obsessively Googling are often somehow linked to what's been in the news or what's a part of pop culture. At the end of the year (or sometimes earlier), companies often release lists of the most searched-for questions, phrases, and topics from that particular year and those lists can look like a snapshot of the big things that happened that year. This year is no different.
As you may expect, people tend to Google things that are popular and that they keep hearing about, but that they don't think they know that much about. If a celebrity is diagnosed with a condition, for example, and goes public with the news, speaking in interviews about how it's changed their life, that can cause people to take an interest. From opioid addiction to lupus, here's what people are searching for more often.
CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, has been in the news quite a bit for several years, but each time there's a new diagnosis, someone tries to force professional organizations to address the issue, or someone suspects that they (or a friend or teammate) might have the condition, it tends to crop up in searches again. According to the Daily Mail, this condition is a degenerative brain disease that can result in depression, dementia, suicidal thoughts or actions, and more. Football and hockey players, wrestlers, and other athletes have all been diagnosed or suspected of having CTE. According to the Chicago Tribune, former Blackhawks player Steve Montador suspected he had CTE, which was confirmed via autopsy after he died at the age of 35 in 2015. Former NFL player Larry Johnson made news in December 2017 when he said that he believes he is living with CTE, which can't be diagnosed until after death, as reported by The Washington Post.
Coming in at number four on the list of health issue-related questions that Americans most wanted Google to answer, according to CNN, is "why am I so tired?" Fatigue is a condition that flummoxes a lot of people, partially because there are so many potential reasons for why you're feeling the way that you are. In 2017, people were still curious and still searching for answers.
The opioid addiction epidemic in America received a lot of press in 2017, with President Donald Trump declaring it a public health emergency in October, as CNN reported. Even outside of that, local and national news media has covered the crisis extensively and the American public has taken notice. People frequently searched for information both on the epidemic itself as well as for more information on drug addiction in general.
Suicide isn't a brand-new topic, but it received more Googling attention in 2017 for a couple of reasons. When celebrities die from suicide, as Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington did in 2017, as People reported, searches related to suicide tend to spike. According to CNN, however, the popularity of Netflix show 13 Reasons Why also caused suicide-related searches to spike. While quite a few of the searches were related to suicide prevention and awareness, others had to do with how one can go about committing suicide, which is obviously concerning. According to a JAMA Internal Medicine paper published in October, "how to commit suicide" searches rose 26 percent after the series was released.
While you may or may not already be Googling cyberchondria, no list about trendy health problems people are searching for on the internet would be complete without it. In case you're unaware, cyberchondria is the condition of obsessively searching for medical information online, according to US News and World Report. There's often anxiety associated with cyberchondria, as well, and many people don't know very much about the condition.
Lupus is an intriguing disease that many people don't know that much about, so it makes sense that after Selena Gomez announced that she has lupus, online searches for information about the condition shot up. According to STAT, lupus was the sixth most popular searched condition in early May 2017 and, as CNN reported in the aforementioned article, "what is lupus?" was the tenth most searched health question of 2017.
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