We’ve made an appointment with Dr. Google to reveal who’s making the most health related searches in the UK. 

Whilst it should go without saying that it’s never a good idea to let Dr. Google diagnose an illness, research from Google Trends suggests that health concerns are some of the most searched queries online. From Flu to Fibromyalgia, almost 80% of internet users in the US have searched for a health-related topic online.

But, what are the most searched health-related queries in the UK? 

The UKs Biggest Health Worries Revealed

According to Dr. Google, these 22 health related queries are the most searched for in the UK, with an incredible combined total of 19,238,000 searches every month. Pneumonia tops the list, followed by diabetes, depression and endometriosis

Health Anxiety in the UK - Top ‘Cyberchondriac’ Cities in the UK

Health anxiety is not a new issue but arguably has become more common with the rise of internet access in the UK, leading to what’s now known as ‘Cyberchondria’ - a form of hypochondria driven by checking online sources for health related information and advice. 

But which UK city is worrying the most about their health and the prospect of becoming ill? From most to least, these are the cities making the most health related searches, according to Google Trends. 

Top Regional Health Concerns

Search data from Google reveals that different areas of the UK worry more about their health than others. Here are the top 11 UK regions searching Google for health related issues, ordered by most to fewest searches each month.  

We need to talk about Endometriosis

Our study revealed that there 1.5 million searches for ‘endometriosis’ each month, making it the fourth most searched medical query in the UK. Affecting 1 in 10 women who are at reproductive age - that equates to 1.5 million women across the UK - it’s no wonder that so many people are looking for more information on endometriosis symptoms. 

Those living in Liverpool were making the most searches about ‘endometriosis’, followed by Cardiff and Oxford.  

People living in Liverpool and Newcastle are worrying the most about endometriosis and vaginal discharge. Combined, these female-centric queries make up 8% of total health related searches in our study.    

Embarrassing Illnesses

Almost a third (27%) of the most searched health conditions in the UK could be classed as embarrassing illnesses; endometriosis, vaginal discharge, UTIs and diarrhoea

Our doctor, Dr Daniel Atkinson explains why people might be tempted to make an appointment with Dr. Google before visiting their GP for these types of issues:

It’s possible that the nature of the symptom prevents someone from seeking help in person. More intimate problems (for instance to do with our sexual health or our toilet habits) can be hard to see a doctor in person about as it is, and even more so when bad news or potentially embarrassing examinations are a distinct possibility.”

UK vs US: Dr. Google Will See You Now…

So, exactly what questions are we asking Dr. Google when we’re most concerned about our health? 

For each of the 22 most-searched health topics above, we’ve discovered the actual questions that are being typed into the search engine the most, with some surprising results.

In the UK, the most searched query relates to stomach pain, with 1.5 million people searching ‘How to get rid of stomach ache?’ every month! 

However, in the US the query ‘Signs of chest infection’ is asked over 358,000 times every month. 

Surprisingly, our study reveals that for the queries listed above, the UK is making 220% more health related searches each month than the US: 

UK: 2,755,100 p/m

vs

US: 861,888 p/m

Compared to the US, the UK is almost twice as likely to ask about symptoms of pneumonia, high blood pressure and fibromyalgia.   

So, is it ever a good idea to ‘Google’ your symptoms?

With so many people searching their symptoms online, we asked Dr. Daniel Atkinson for some overall advice on how to make this as safe as possible:  

Try and anticipate how you will feel when researching symptoms online and how this is going to affect you. If you’re prone to worry, it might be an idea to avoid Googling symptoms until you’ve seen a doctor.

That said, if you do research your symptoms, it is probably helpful to jot down a few notes so that you remember to mention the things that are worrying you most when you have your consultation.”

GPs would still prefer patients to come and see them over something which is potentially nothing, than be put off seeing them and risk not getting the treatment that they need - without question.

So, if you’re prone to worrying about your health, it is better to seek advice from a medical professional before consulting Dr. Google. Whilst researching your symptoms can be useful for some, the best advice is always to consult your GP.

Study methodology:

Using Google Trends data for the most searched health concerns from 2017 and 2018, we analysed the regions and cities searching for these health queries the most, by applying search volume data from the Google Adwords Keyword Planner, correct as of 1st October 2019.