The unspeakables: questions about weird diseases
By Mary Van Doren
Posted in: Health
It’s probably no accident that JustAnswer customers flock to the medical category in search of answers in December.
With cold weather setting in, flu and other infections and weird diseases running rampant and holiday stress hitting hard, the category saw visitors stopping in more than 1 million times last December.
Because questions on JustAnswer, once asked and answered, are available to one and all on the Internet, thousands of people across the globe clicked on medical questions to see what the Experts had to say to the original questioners, perhaps seeking answers to their own awkward questions. And one of these led the pack in curiosity.
Wrong. The problem that drew the attention of more than 6,000 worried visitors was:
Not as surprising as you might think
While some of these viewers might have arrived there simply for the entertainment value, this ailment is actually pretty common, not least because two of the common causes are the dry air of winter and excessive nose-blowing from colds.
Other obvious causes include nose-picking, sniffing drugs, or nose piercings, while less obvious causes include smoking, allergies, HIV/AIDS, cancer, lupus, impetigo, sinus infections, STDs and herpes, rhinitis, trauma to the nose, and excessive use of nasal sprays.
The Expert on JustAnswer, Dr. Sohaib, said the customer was probably suffering from some form of sinus infection or rhinitis, and advised the customer to get a diagnosis from an ear, nose and throat specialist to narrow down the possibilities. This conversation was of strong interest to visitors, who spent almost four minutes reading it on average.
And while the question about scab-like boogers was the most-visited query in the most-visited category for December, there are other intriguing problems and weird diseases, including #2, with just over half the number of readers as the boogers questions.
In this case, the Expert, Dr. Owen, considered the customer’s symptoms and suggested that she see a doctor to be examined for Lichen Sclerosis, though, despite the doctor’s opinion that it was unlikely, the customer was fairly sure she had pinworms instead.
This isn’t unusual at JustAnswer, where many customers are afraid they have cancer, or some weird disease they found on Dr. Google.
However, such symptoms are quite common among JustAnswer customers. Often the cause is actually hemorrhoids, for which Medical Experts usually prescribe sitting in a warm Sitz bath, applying ice to the area and also applying Preparation H. ("It really works!," says Expert Dr. Rick, who also notes that almost everyone over 45 will get them sooner or later.)
Right behind this question in reader interest was a female-only problem:
While this is something many women find unpleasant about their bodies, this customer wanted to do something about it, though she was unwilling to have surgery. What those Internet visitors read was Dr. R. Bora advising the original customer to try UNT Plush Blush Pro Lightening Cream, but the customer said she already had, without satisfactory results.
The customer then asked about anal bleach, and Dr. Bora cautioned that she should stick to a mild bleach containing 2% hydroquinone as it is less damaging to sensitive skin.
Hopefully this response helped other women among the 3,582 Internet visitors who saw this question in December. There are many areola bleaching creams available on the Internet, but not all contain hydroquinone, and some could be risky to use. And you'll find little actual medical advice about them on the Web.
What else do JustAnswer visitors want to read?
Headaches, unrecognized lumps somewhere on the body and questions about STDs are common problems for JustAnswer customers, and they draw a fairly steady amount of attention from other visitors. But in January, there was no single illness or weird disease that stands out as attracting the most attention. The remaining seven of the top 10 most-visited pages are:
One thing that is clear about JustAnswer’s medical questions: Many of them are indeed focused on weird diseases and symptoms all year, as people can be too embarrassed about their symptoms to discuss them in person with their own doctor.
If you have questions about some of your own symptoms (or want to browse through existing questions and answers), you can always access the Experts on JustAnswer.com, day or night, without making, waiting and traveling for a medical appointment.
Have you ever had a weird disease or symptoms? Please share them with us in the comments below.