We’ve all been guilty of turning to Google with our symptoms when we’re feeling under the weather. A bit of a cough, a high temperature, insomnia – Doctor Google can diagnose it all.
The rise of poorly people taking to the internet to Google their symptoms has even sparked a new phenomenon called “cyberchrondria” – yes, it’s in the dictionary!
Here at Pharmacy2U, it got us thinking. What are the most Googled symptoms? Which cities are the most concerned about their health problems? Are there certain months with the most symptom searches? We decided to do some research to find out.
We conducted some research into the Google searches for 28 common symptoms, including headaches, stomach ache, vomiting, high temperature, loss of appetite, fatigue, insomnia, and more. Then, we analysed the search data from ten major cities, including: London, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Nottingham, Birmingham, Newcastle, Cardiff, Belfast, and Aberdeen.
So, what did we find?
The Most Googled Symptoms
We looked at the average monthly searches in our major cities and found that the three most Googled symptoms that came out on top were:
- Insomnia – 74,000 average monthly searches
- Diarrhoea – 49,500 average monthly searches
- Sore throat – 40,500 average monthly searches
Headaches and chest pains followed close behind, both with 27,100 average monthly searches each, completing the top five most Googled symptoms.
Judging by the disparity in the volume of searches between the top three symptoms, it appears that UK residents struggle to sleep well. The searches for insomnia dominate the results in nine out of ten of the major cities for the most searched symptom. (Tell us your secret to a good night’s sleep, Leeds!)
Which Month Has the Most Searches?
We’re no strangers to the response “there must be a bug going around” when someone mentions in conversation that they’re poorly. We noticed that this response never seems to be limited to a particular month, so we decided to take a look at the peak months for Googling symptoms.
In the UK, it’s no surprise that the peak month for Googling illnesses is January. People are reluctantly back at work after the festive season, having indulged in food, chocolate, and wine.
However, drilling down into the search volume by each individual city gives us some unexpected results. Let’s have a closer look at three main UK cities:
- Peak month for searches: March
- Average monthly search volume: 3,008 searches
- Top 3 symptoms: Insomnia (12,100) / Diarrhoea (8,100) / Sore throat (8,100)
- Peak month for searches: May and October
- Average monthly search volume: 238 searches
- Top 3 symptoms: Insomnia (1,000) / Diarrhoea (590) / Sore throat (590)
- Peak month for searches: August
- Average monthly search volume: 165 searches
- Top 3 symptoms: Diarrhoea (590) / Sore throat (480) / Headache, Chest pain, Indigestion (320)
An Overview of What We’ve Learned
The results of our research highlighted some very interesting trends in the UK in terms of the symptoms searched for, and where the poorly Googlers were located. Here’s a quick overview of our findings:
- Insomnia is the symptom that UK residents Google the most frequently, peaking in the months of March and May.
- London is home to the most internet-users concerned about their health, with 3,008 searches each month. Whereas up north, Aberdeen has the least, with only 68 monthly searches.
- The three months in the year when searches peaked were in January, March and December.
See where all 28 symptoms rank in the table below.
So, whether you’ve got insomnia, or a sore throat, or any other symptoms, next time you’re feeling under the weather, you won’t be alone if you choose to look online for support. On our website, we have an online GP consultation service, where a registered doctor will provide you with advice and recommend tests and treatments that are suitable for your case.