Top 10 Health Searches for 2010

December 8, 2010 at 2:09 pm , by

I can’t remember what life was like before search engines—I turn to the Internet for answers about everything, even my health. Like most people with a computer, at the first sign of symptoms, I’m usually hunting down my own diagnosis before I’ve even thought about calling the doctor.
“People turn to the web for quick answers,” says Robert Glatter, M.D., a New York-based emergency room physician. “A lot of times when people come see me they already have an idea of what’s wrong with them.”

So what health woes were on our minds this year? As part of their Year in Review coverage, the folks at Yahoo! parsed data from billions of searches for the top 10 health-related terms for 2010, and the results might surprise you.

The list:

1. Pregnancy, 2. Diabetes, 3. Herpes, 4. Shingles, 5. Lupus, 6. Depression, 7. Breast cancer, 8. Gall bladder, 9. HIV, 10. Fibromyalgia

pregnancyPregnancy is consistently at the top, says Vera Chan, a Yahoo! web trend analyst, but it’s not just moms-to-be doing the digging. “Early symptoms of pregnancy” and “pregnancy tests” were among the top search phrases, which are likely from women concerned that they might be pregnant.

“Pregnancy also figures in reality shows these days—16 and Pregnant, I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant—and celebrity pregnancies spur their own round of queries,” Chan says.

While diabetes and pregnancy aren’t all that surprising, how did herpes get into the top three? According to the latest numbers from the CDC, prevalence of the herpes simplex virus remains high at about 16 percent. Plus, many people are uncomfortable discussing their sexual health with family, friends and even their doctors, so they turn to the web, Dr. Glatter says. The same goes for HIV coming in at number nine.

“I think there’s also an increased sense of the need for testing, so that may be why people are searching for it,” he adds.

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, between 75% and 80% of all Internet users have looked online for health information.  But Chan says that women conduct health searches more often than men, which may be why diseases more common in women, like lupus and fibromyalgia, found their way into the top 10.

Dr. Glatter was stunned that autism didn’t make it onto the list this year. What do you think—anything else missing?

Photos by rcv3 and Mahalie

10 Responses to “Top 10 Health Searches for 2010”

  1. I’m surprised quitting smoking/lung cancer didn’t make the list….

  2. Interesting. I guess “obesity,” “losing weight,” et al. fall under a different category?

  3. I would have gone for some of the new sydromes that are affecting women and becoming more prevalent, like PCOS and infertility. And would “herpes” include the HPV? That seems to be growing awareness with teenagers and younger woman.

  4. Yeah, i didn’t even think about obesity.. how could I forget?? Maybe it was number 11

  5. I think obesity probably falls into the diabetes category, at least to a certain extent. I definitely would have thought that high cholesterol would have been included.

    I’m very surprised that there aren’t more searches about losing weight and about anxiety, even thought that may be included in the depression category?

    Great article!

  6. I agree with the person above me, the awareness and subsequent fear of HPV has risen in the past year. I would expect it to be on the list. Otherwise this article is VERY accurate, I am a female and ALWAYS wedmd or google my symptoms before even considering the doctors. Love it!

  7. It would be interesting to see more demographic research for these search queries. Are males less active when it comes to researching health concerns, or are they researching for their partner instead of their self? Pretty neat to see none-the-less.

  8. Interesting indeed! I completely understand why all things inclusive with pregnancy top the list. What female who has lost her virginity hasn’t looked up “Pregnancy symptoms”?!? We’re all just a bunch of paranoid females :)

    How does Chan know that women are more prone to search on the internet than males? Can computers read our gender now!? OH MY GOD! ;-)

    I’m also surprised that obesity or cholesterol was not included in the top ten. I guess obese people just kind of know that they’re fat and don’t need some chart to confirm the obvious…. not to be mean here but seriously.
    Denying that the internet is being used more commonly for diagnosing masses would be silly. However, I think its important to note that not all things read on the internet are true to one’s particular condition. And for someone like me, the internet is a scary place to search for what my symptoms may be related to. I start to think I have every health condition that I read about!

  9. Going to internet for every question/topic/dilemmma is second nature for me too. Healthwise, I’m surprised ADD didn’t make the list as well as anything related to smoking cessation. Maybe it’s just my own wishful thinking for wanting more smokers to want to quit but with the increased prevalence of ADD in kids and adults, plus all the talk about adderall abuse I’m shocked its not in the top 10. I wonder, did the study reveal anything beyond top 10? Great post, keep ‘em coming!

  10. As a 51 year old mother, my top health topics are menopause as well as ADHD , the former being my top health concern, the latter being everyone else in my family. I must be in the older demographic as pregnancy and HIV would have probably been a concern when I was younger.