Hey Google, How Do I Know If I Am Sick?

A Screen-free guide for: what to do and what not to do when feeling sick. 

Lea Krusemeyer (She/Her) // Staff Writer

Eva Staub (She/Her) // Illustrator

Imagine you wake up one morning with a sore throat and a slight headache. You are alone in your apartment and trying to figure out if it’s a cold, the flu, exhaustion, or maybe even COVID. Who do you turn to first?

Most of us would probably say Google. There are rarely any questions that the World Wide Web cannot answer, and for our generation Google especially has become an everyday part of life. Using the internet to determine your sickness might seem like a wise choice but it carries dangers with it that might not be obvious at first. The issue with relying on Google for your health advice lies in the fact that the internet will give you standardized answers, a warm forehead means a fever, and Google does not know that you might have just walked up 10 levels to get to your apartment.

So, what should you do when you wake up with the feeling of sickness but do not have parents or a doctor nearby to give you advice? This guide is designed to help you make informed decisions about your health while avoiding the common trap of relying solely on Google for health advice. We’ll explore safe and trustworthy resources for both on-campus and off-campus opportunities.

First of all, you should still turn to the internet to find the closest doctor’s office, the address of the nearest Emergency Room, or information about your health insurance. Google is a tool that can help make things easier but it should never be used as a diagnosis. Doctors have studied for 10 years or more to be able to give you a qualified answer. Rely on them instead of an algorithm.

For students of Capilano University, there are numerous resources available. There is a dental office on campus and your health insurance will help to cover the cost. Google is free but you access it through a phone or computer you paid for, look at your health insurance the same way. By paying your Capilano University fees, you pay for your insurance, so make use of it.

Now let us get into the specifics of what CapU has to offer for its students on campus.

          Dental issues can be resolved in Birch 249 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the treatment is included in your Health and Dental Plan (appointments are needed and can be made by calling (604) 984-4964).

          First Aid can be accessed in Arbutus 016 at all times of the day, year-round.

          Mental Health counseling is available to all students via CapU counselling, either in person or online, and appointments can be booked by calling (604) 984-1744.

These are the resources you can access that are offered explicitly by Capilano University but that is not where it ends. CapU uses StudentCare, to offer even more services to its students. Students are automatically enrolled in this insurance with their tuition but can choose to opt-out at any time. Opting out is not recommended by CapU unless students are covered elsewhere, because this insurance covers services, so you don’t have to pay out of pocket for visits to the doctor’s office or an emergency room.

Now let us see what StudentCare covers:

          Vaccinations and prescription drugs

          Visits to the emergency room

          Visits to health practitioners such as physicians, chiropractors and more

          Costs related to vision, such as eye exams and glasses

          Travel insurance

A visit to the emergency room without insurance can cost thousands of dollars, and eye exams are also a costly expense in Canada. This insurance gives you access to a multitude of resources so when you wake up in the morning feeling sick and trying to figure out what is going on, opt to Google your nearest doctor’s office and make an appointment, instead of heading to WebMD. Rely on the experts because it will not break the bank.

If for any reason you refuse to visit a doctor’s office and insist on using Google as your tool of diagnosis, there are a few websites that are fact-checked frequently and at least offer you accurate advice to the highest extent possible without an examination by a doctor.

Those websites are:

          The website of the World Health Organisation (WHO)

          The website of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Again, you should get your symptoms checked out in person if possible, but at least on those websites you will find answers as to what illnesses might be going around and they might help to bring a little bit of peace of mind.

The next time you feel sick, try to remember those tips and tricks given here before you start picking out flowers for your funeral. Try to stay calm and double-check with a qualified healthcare professional. University life is a thrilling adventure, but your health should always be a priority. Avoid the Google Health Trap by leveraging on-campus and off-campus resources, seeking professional advice, and using online information responsibly. By doing so, you’ll be equipped to make informed decisions and enjoy a safe and healthy university experience.

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