From ‘stress’ to ‘dark green stool’: Study reveals the most Googled health symptoms in every state

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We’ve all been there.

We feel a case of the sniffles, a stomach ache or maybe a fever and turn to Dr Google to try and diagnose ourselves.

Now, a new study from MedicareHealthPlans has revealed the symptoms that are most searched in Google in every US state.

The symptom most typed into the search engine was ‘stress’, with one-fifth of states looking up the term in the past year.

While most states had common searches, others had more unique ones ranging from ‘night sweats’ to ‘uncircumcised problems’ and even two states concerned about the color of their poop.

Residents of particularly South Carolina and Wisconsin were most concerned about the color of their excrement.

Wisconsin wanted to know what ‘light colored poop’ meant whereas South Carolina wanted to learn more about ‘dark green stool’, the findings showed. 

Pale stool could mean your biliary system – gallbladder, liver and pancreas – is experiencing problems draining.

Poop is a brown color due to bile salts from the liver. If the liver is not producing enough bile, or the flow is blocked, the feces might have a clay-like color.

Green stool, on the other hand, could be due to green vegetables such as spinach and lettuce or food passing through the large intestine too quickly for bile to break it down. 

There were other quite peculiar searches including: ‘sweaty palms’ in California, ‘signs of low testosterone’ in Nebraska, ‘pregnancy cravings’ in Tennessee, and ‘uncircumcised problems’ in Indiana.  

Excessively sweaty palms are often a result of a condition known as palmar hyperhidrosis, which is the palms sweat more than is necessary to regulate body temperature.

There are a number of underlying causes of palmar hyperhidrosis including anxiety, low blood sugar, stress, thyroid problems, or simply your genes.

Indianians searching for ‘uncircumcised problems’ are likely experiencing either phimosis or paraphimosis. 

Phimosis occurs when the foreskin is not able to be pulled back behind the head of the penis while paraphimosis is when the foreskin becomes trapped after it’s pulled back behind the head.  

It’s unclear whether Tennesseans are searching ‘pregnancy cravings’ to understand what they are or what most women crave, but they are a real phenomenon.

A 2014 study from the University at Albany in New York found that between 50 and 90 percent of women experience cravings and – while it’s a mystery as to why – scientists suspect hormones.

In Nebraska, people searching for signs of low testosterone likely found that they include: difficulty experiencing an erection, hair loss, fatigue and increased body fat. 

The most-Googled symptom was ‘stress’, the primary concern in 10 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Virginia.

The American Psychological Association’s 2017 Stress in America Survey found ‘money, work, the current political climate, the future of the nation, and violence and crime’ to be the top sources of stress.

Negative stress can manifest physically including headaches, elevated blood pressure, and chest pain.

These can all raise the risk of – or worsen – diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and arthritis.

Additionally, an increase of cortisol, called the stress hormone, can raise the amount of fat tissue your body and cause you to gain weight.

Many used the search engine to look up common symptoms such as stomach ache (Washington, Nevada and Wyoming), fever (Arkansas), chills (Louisiana) and morning sickness (Arizona and Utah).

The most searched term in Idaho was ‘E. coli symptoms’, which makes sense considering the state had a massive outbreak this year. According to the Idaho Department of Health, in March and April, 12 cases were reported in the Gem State due to the Yuma romaine lettuce E coli outbreak.  

Symptoms of an infection include abdominal cramping or pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.  

The researchers said they were also amused that ‘loss of sleep’ was the most-Googled symptom in New York, home of The City That Never Sleeps.

To reach their findings, researchers gathered the most frequently searched symptoms of the past year on Google Trends. 

Then, after grouping similar symptoms together, the terms were run back through Google Trends to determine the states with the highest search volume for each symptom.

‘Keep in mind that our findings don’t mean these are symptoms most people have in each state, but our results do suggest which symptoms concern a lot of people,’ the study authors wrote.   

They also remind readers that they should take information they garner from the Internet with a grain of salt until they consult a physician.

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