How Google Can Help You Find Health Information

How Google Can Help You Find Health Information  Find more genealogy blogs at FamilyTree.comThere are two main varieties of family trees that genealogists can put together. One is the typical kind that focuses on how each member of the family is related to each other. The other is a medical family tree that tracks diseases and other health conditions in a family. Google might be able to give you some helpful health information about things that affect your family members.

What’s the first thing you do when you are trying to discern if you have the flu or just a cold? You might use Google to bring up information about the symptoms of a cold and/or the symptoms of flu. Chances are, you end up on WebMD, where, as the old joke goes, you are told your symptoms are cancer (no matter what symptoms you entered).

You’re reading an article that mentions a disease you are unfamiliar with. What’s the first thing you do? Many people “Google it” in order to learn more about the disease they were wondering about. Google has noticed that people are using its search engine this way.

In August of 2015, there was an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in New York City. It is a very rare disease that is a form of pneumonia. It can sometimes be deadly. While this outbreak was happening, Google noticed searches for Legionnaires’ disease spiked over 1,000%

In response, Google added Legionnaires’ disease to their health conditions feature. This was done to make it easy for people to find more information about that disease with just a simple search. In addition, Google started adding hundreds more health conditions to their feature (which will soon hold information on over 900 diseases). They will include tropical diseases, too.

People who do a Google search for a health condition (either on the Google app or on desktop) can find at-a-glance information on symptoms, treatments, prevalence, and more. The information will include visual design improvements (including detailed illustrations). You can also download a PDF, print out the information, and bring it with on your next doctor’s visit.

What does this mean for genealogists? It means that it Google is making it easier for you to get a full understanding about the diseases that afflicted your ancestors. Perhaps one of your ancestors lived in Austin, Minnesota in 1957, and caught Legionnaires’ disease during the outbreak that happened that year.

Did one of your ancestors have “breakbone fever”? Today, it is called Dengue fever. It spreads via tropical mosquito bites. An outbreak of “breakbone fever” happened in Austin, Texas, in 1885. Some symptoms include agonizing pain behind the eyes and in the bones of people’s arms and legs.

Image by TechStage on Flickr.

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