July 20, 2011 at 4:00 pm , by Amelia Harnish
Raise your hand if you’ve ever sleuthed out funky symptoms on the web or searched a term your doctor used that you didn’t understand. I’m willing to bet everyone reading this has done both of these things. Your search bar is a useful tool when you’re looking for answers about your personal health, but when you look at what we’re all searching you see some surprising trends.
What health topics are people really wondering about? And what do our searches say about us? Our friends at Yahoo! have some answers. Every month they cull their data from their more than 3 billion monthly searches, and send us a snapshot of what people are digging for. Here are three intriguing topics from the top 20 searches in July.
12. Dengue Fever
What the heck is Dengue fever and why was it number 12 this month? Well, it’s a flu-like virus spread by mosquitoes, and it can be fatal. Although this illness is mainly a concern in Asian countries, cases around the globe have grown dramatically in recent years, according to the World Health Organization. If you read the rest of the list, you’ll find many bug-related searches; it’s just that time of year. But recent reports about “vicious,” hard-to-kill Asian tiger mosquitoes infiltrating urban areas all over the country may have added to our fears about bug-borne diseases. The same type of mosquito was responsible for a Dengue fever outbreak in Hawaii a few years ago. Shudder.
Another huh? Lobotomies, which haven’t exactly been standard practice for decades, were once used to treat schizophrenia, depression and other mental health problems by severing the connections between the frontal lobes and the rest of the brain. Even Yahoo! experts were stumped on this one, but said most searches were for “define lobotomy” rather than “I need a lobotomy.” Whew. Maybe they’d all been watching One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest?
1. Chronic Pain
This one took the top spot this month—but why? Probably because a new Institute of Medicine report found that at least 116 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, meaning it continues for more than six months, many times even after the original cause of the pain has been resolved. The report concluded that treatment is often “delayed, inaccessible and inadequate,” and called for an entirely new way of treating pain. With such a frustrating disorder finally getting some much-needed attention, it seems pain patients took to the web in droves to let out a collective “I told you so!”
Read more for the full list. Read more