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More turn to internet for medical advice

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WILMINGTON -- An increasing number of people are turning to the internet to seek medical advice. They're affectionately called "cyber-chondriacs." According to one poll there were about 160 million of them in 2006. Dr. Catherine Sotir is a family practitioner at Wilmington Health Associates. She says she and her colleagues are seeing more and more people turning to the internet -- before they turn to them. "There's a couple of dangers of it, as well. One is if you have some symptoms and you look it up and you diagnose yourself and you have something serious, but per your diagnosis it's not so serious," Dr. Sotir said. Sotir says with so many people on the internet at home, it's only natural to look up symptoms on sites like WebMD. The problems arise when people get carried away with self-diagnosis. "Sometimes people read or look things up on the internet and think they have something and in fact they don't," Sotir said. If you do your own research, doctor Sotir suggests letting your doctor know what you find on medical web sites. Wilmington resident Michael Agnew said, "I use them for checking out medications after I'm prescribed them to read up on what they're used for mostly." Agnew is a college student who says many people his age are turning to the web for medical advice and not necessarily by choice. "A lot of kids that don't have insurance right now," Agnew said. "I think that's becoming a big problem in America." Dr. Sotir says it's great to be prepared with background information before you go to the doctor, but don't get into the habit of visiting websites instead of visiting your physician.

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