We all do it - instead of calling our doctor or a reliable medical source, we google it. Symptoms, treatments, recovery time, medication suggestions, and the list goes on and on. But have you ever wondered what the most commonly googled health questions were?
Well, I have. So I researched it and then I researched the answers to those questions. Here's what I found. (Keep in mind this is list is from 2019)
1. How to lower blood pressure
This was the most frequently searched health question last year. It's not all that surprising considering nearly half of adults in the United States have high blood pressure (hypertension) which is defined as a systolic blood pressure ≥ 130 mm Hg or a diastolic blood pressure ≥ 80 mm Hg or are taking medication for hypertension.
If you are serious about lowering your blood pressure the first step is to try to get to a healthy weight and sustain it. Generally speaking, a healthy weight defined as having a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 but it can vary based on your body composition.
Along with a healthy weight, a healthy diet can make a huge impact on your blood pressure. Increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables and lowering your consumption of saturated fat and high-salt foods is a great place to start.
Stay active! Your heart health depends on moving your body and using the cardiovascular system. Aim for 90 to 150 minutes of some kind of physical activity each week. Mix cardio activity like walking or jogging with resistance or weight training for best results. Finally, limit your consumption of alcohol to less than 2 per day.
2. What is Keto?
Raise your hand if you're surprised by this question coming in at number two. That's what I thought. I wasn't surprised either.
The ketogenic or "keto" diet has been one of the fastest-growing diet trends of the last 10 years. To put it simply, keto is a low carbohydrate, (very) high-fat diet. All the bacon you can eat, but no toast.
The theory is that when your body is low on carbs it will start to burn fat on your body for energy. Once people hear "burn fat" they immediately sign on. However, there are some important health considerations regarding the keto diet. Limiting your fruit and vegetable intake will deprive your body of important nutrients (see strategies for lowering blood pressure above).
We are still waiting for long term research on keto. It has shown some short-term weight loss results but is very hard to maintain due to the rigid recommendations and could have long term health implications.
3. How to get rid of hiccups?
I think I may have contributed to this one. Because there is nothing quite as annoying as having the hiccups. But everyone and their cousin has a remedy that they swear works every time. Truthfully, there are isn't a cure-all for hiccups except maybe to wait it out.
But if you're curious, here are a few other things you can try. Gargling or sipping on ice-cold water, gently pulling on your tongue (seriously, this sometimes works!), getting scared or laughing spontaneously, or rubbing the back of your neck are a few tricks you can try. You may have to recruit someone else to try to scare you or make you laugh though.
4. How long does the flu last?
You've been in bed for 3 days as sick as a dog. You grab your phone and squint at the bright screen just long enough to google how long does the flu last. Desperate and loopy on cold medicine, you'll likely find the answer is about 3-7 days.
For most relatively healthy people the flu will last less than a week. Some symptoms may linger for a few more days but at that time you are no longer contagious. In fact, spreading the flu can happen as early as one day before you exhibit symptoms through day 3 to 4.
5. What causes hiccups?
Hiccups was a popular topic in 2019. Despite several urban legends about what causes hiccups, the scientific explanation is involuntary contractions of your diaphragm. Okay - but what causes those involuntary contractions? It could be many things including a sudden change of temperature, a full stomach, or drinking a carbonated beverage.
*If your hiccups last longer than 48 hours, call a doctor.
6. What causes kidney stones?
For most people who have had kidney stones, the pain is often too overwhelming to even think about googling potential causes. This very painful condition is caused by the formation of small crystallized stones in your urinary tract.
Kidney stones can happen for a lot of different reasons including underlying medical conditions or carrying excess body weight. Certain supplements or medications may also increase the likelihood of developing kidney stones.
You can lower your risk by staying hydrated and maintaining a healthy diet and weight. If you are concerned about your risk of kidney stones, talk to your doctor for more information. Lifestyle changes cannot guarantee that you won't develop kidney stones, but it certainly can help!
Everyone's Primary Doctor - Google
So, there you have it, the top 6 most frequently asked health questions online. As with all internet searches, make sure you're getting your information from a reliable source. Mayo Clinic and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) are great resources for health information online.
So the next time you consult Dr. Google, be aware that not all the information out there is accurate.