Is It Normal...?

You’ve got health questions, and the internet has lots of answers— but can you trust them? To find out, we asked teens to dish on their strangest symptoms. Read on to learn how Google would diagnose you—and then get a doctor's take. 

Maybe you have a weird eye twitch or hiccups that just won’t quit. If you’re like many people, one of the first places you turn to diagnose the problem is Dr. Google. And now you’re convinced that you’re dying. Cool.

While you can find a plethora of helpful information online, it’s also easy to stumble upon inaccurate—and sometimes completely misleading—health and treatment advice. In fact, one study found that more than half of “health” websites feature unreliable information.

If you’re concerned about your wellbeing, it’s best to turn to your parents, a school nurse, or—best yet—a physician. (Unlike Dr. Google, your M.D. went to school for a really long time and knows his or her stuff.) Write down your questions and bring them with you to your annual checkup or sports physical.

The good news is that most of your symptoms—even the ones that make you go “Huh?”—are nothing to worry about. The body does some strange stuff, but it’s usually completely normal. Read on to find out which internet diagnoses you can ignore as well as what’s actually going on when your body acts up. 

You have cancer—yikes!

Tiny bean-shaped glands called lymph nodes are located throughout your body. They work like bodyguards, keeping an eye out for viruses and bacteria. When they catch something, they swell as they fight off the infection. Yes, a swollen node can be painful, but it’s also a sign that your body’s immune system is functioning properly. 

Place a warm washcloth on the area for 10 minutes a few times a day to ease the discomfort. 

You have a brain injury.

Gravity. Here’s the quick play-by- play: When you get up after sitting or lying down, blood pools in your legs (due to gravity). For a brief moment, less blood flows to your heart and brain, causing you to feel light-headed. This is more common when you’re dehydrated or getting out of bed in the morning. 

Keep a glass of water on your nightstand and take a few sips before you get out of bed. And be sure to drink up during the day to stay hydrated. 

You're going blind.

If you have an eye tic, there’s a good chance it’s because you’re overwhelmed. Just like stress can make you sweat or fidget, it can also make the muscles around the eyes spasm uncontrollably. Extreme tiredness can trigger eye twitches too—but don’t worry, your vision won’t be affected. 

Close your eyes for a few minutes so the muscles can relax—and aim for 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night. 

You have a blood clot.

Dehydration and a depletion of certain minerals like potassium can bring on the painful muscle contraction, aka a charley horse. It’s impossible to ignore the excruciating cramp, which feels as if someone is squeezing your calf like a stress ball. 

To stop the contraction, flex your foot as far as you can, pulling your toes toward your knee. This may hurt, but the momentary pain will be worth the relief! 

Your hiccups could last (dun, dun, dun) forever. 

Had a huge meal recently? Eating too much can cause your diaphragm—a large muscle that helps you breathe— to contract involuntarily. Each time it contracts, your vocal cords close suddenly, making the “hic” sound. Drinking carbonated beverages, swallowing air while chewing gum, and getting extremely excited or stressed out can also trigger a hic-fest. 

Pull your knees to your chest and lean forward to counteract your diaphragm’s irritation. Check in with your doc if the hiccups last longer than two days. Acid reflux could be to blame. 

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