Chickenpox tops NHS hit list31st October 2006
More and more Britons are choosing to see a virtual doctor for medical advice, especially when it comes to embarrassing ailments.
Thrush, ringworm and urinary infections are among the most searched-for medical problems on NHS Direct, according to new research.
Other common problems include stress, pregnancy, back pain and depression.
The NHS advice service, NHS Direct was opened in 1999 as a telephone helpline service and now deals with 25,000 calls a day.
The internet service was added later and now has 1.5 million visits a month – making it the most used health website in the UK, providing health information in 12 languages.
Researchers spent six months looking at how the site was used to compile a list of the Top Twenty inquiries.
The top spot was taken by chickenpox, closely followed by pregnancy, which account for more than 10 per cent of the total number of searches between them.
The sexually-transmitted infection Chlamydia was a popular topic for searches as was the fungal infection Thrush. Irritable bowel syndrome also appeared in the top 20 list.
Experts say the website is not designed as a substitute for visiting a doctor, but can help people make informed decisions.
There was also evidence to suggest that the website was helping to reduce unnecessary visits to other health services, including GP surgeries and A&E.
The survey was released to coincide with the re-launch of NHS Direct's website www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk.
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