ASK THE EXPERT: How to approach health advice from social media

Ask the Expert

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)– More than four billion people use social media worldwide and health-related advice and challenges are becoming increasingly popular across various platforms.

As part of our “Ask the Expert” series, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis, 7 News’ Taylor Murray spoke with a nurse practitioner about the dangers of viral health trends and the best approach to medical advice that didn’t come from your doctor.

Social media has created a space for people to share about anything and everything.

However, when it comes to getting health-related advice from your favorite app– don’t be so quick to believe, or even try, information shared online.

“Social media is not the best way to handle your health symptoms or conditions.”

Ana Endaya / Nurse Practitioner, Bon Secours St. Francis

Nurse practitioner Ana Endaya says what works for one person may not work for you.

“It can be very dangerous in a way that is not based on your individual needs and not taking into account your medical history, your lab work, and medications,” Endaya said.

The bulk of health advice on social media is centered around fad diets and exercise trends. Endaya says too much time spent scrolling through this content can do more to harm your body image than help.

“It could pose a lot of mental health risks. You scroll through there and then you see somebody is doing better than you are, looks better than you, and it could give you a lot of stress, anxiety, and depression,” Endaya said.

If getting in better shape or losing weight is your goal, Endaya says it’s best to talk to your doctor instead of listening to a social media influencer.

“That could lead to a lot of E.R. visits, and I’ve seen those, or follow-ups and stories about those things so it’s very dangerous,” Endaya said.

If you’ve already tried to treat yourself, at home, from advice found on an app or online– be honest with your healthcare provider so they can provide the right treatment.

“You know certain lab work can make sense or not make sense. It would be helpful if you gave us some information, even though it’s kind of like trivial and embarrassing,” Endaya said.

Just how social media is available at your fingertips, so are medical professionals.

Many doctor’s offices, and insurance plans, offer convenient virtual visits.

To submit a health topic for our Ask the Expert series, click here.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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