New Google Feature Helps You Get Answers About Your Symptoms

Google will now list medical conditions when you search for your symptoms

A computer user poses in front of a Google search page. — REUTERS
Jun 21, 2016 at 4:23 AM ET

Google is trying to make it easier for you to figure out what’s causing your stomach ache or the terrifying rash that just showed up on your arm. An update on the Google app for iOS and Android “over the next few days” will offer clear search results related to your symptoms, Google announced on Monday.

Instead of searching for a phrase like “stomach ache on left side” and getting a list of blue links to sites such as Mayo Clinic and WebMD in return, the new feature instead presents a set of symptom cards that list information related to your search, including succinct descriptions about medical conditions specifically associated with your symptoms.

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Google said in a blog post Monday that roughly 1 percent of searches on the site are related to symptoms. “But health content on the web can be difficult to navigate, and tends to lead people from mild symptoms to scary and unlikely conditions, which can cause unnecessary anxiety and stress,” the company said.

The new update aims to offer a solution. “Starting in the coming days, when you ask Google about symptoms like ‘headache on one side,’ we’ll show you a list of related conditions (‘headache,’ ‘migraine,’ ‘tension headache,’ ‘cluster headache,’ ‘sinusitis,’ and ‘common cold’),” Google said. “For individual symptoms like ‘headache,’ we’ll also give you an overview description along with information on self-treatment options and what might warrant a doctor’s visit.”

“By doing this, our goal is to help you to navigate and explore health conditions related to your symptoms, and quickly get to the point where you can do more in-depth research on the web or talk to a health professional,” Google added.

The update will be available on mobile in the U.S., in English, and the company hopes to extend the feature internationally.