WebMD Symptom Checker

What happens if, one day, you wake up with an upset stomach?  Or you're house-sitting with your grandchildren, and one of them complains that their ear won't stop hurting?  What could it mean?  WebMD's "Symptom Checker" function allows you to quickly look at what your symptoms might be a warning sign for, so you can have an educated conversation with a doctor on what to do next. 

How to use the WebMD Symptom Checker

  1. Go to www.webmd.com in your web browser.  Underneath the "Search" bar, click Symptoms.

  2. Use the form on the page that appears to select:

    – whether you're checking symptoms for yourself or someone else
    – the gender of the person you're checking symptoms for
    – the age range of the person you're checking symptoms for

    You can also type in your ZIP code and email address, but you don't have to.  When you're done entering your information, click Submit.

  3. First, you'll have to narrow down where the symptoms are on your body.  Click on the part of the body model where your symptoms appear to originate from (different parts will light up when you move your mouse cursor over them); you may have to do this more than once as you zoom in from general areas to more specific areas.  In some cases, an option will appear to select the entire general area of the body.

    You can click Front View / Back View to rotate the body model if your symptoms aren't located on a part of it that's currently visible.  You can also click Select Skin if your symptoms can be seen or felt directly on your skin.

    If you can't pinpoint exactly where your symptoms are located (perhaps because they're psychological or emotional), you can click More Symptoms Here to see a list of general symptoms.  You can also click in the box labelled "Search Symptoms" and type in what you see or feel on your body, and then click the search button () to see what WebMD comes up with.

  4. Once you have selected a part of the body that you want to check symptoms for — or have clicked More Symptoms Here or searched for symptoms — a list of symptoms will appear to the right.  Click on a symptom to add it to your list.

  5. For some symptoms, you will be able to give more information about their nature, like if you had a recent injury that may have brought them on.  Click the check boxes beside each option that describes your symptoms in more detail to mark them, and then click Finish to add the symptom to your list.

  6. Symptoms that you have selected will show up in the "Your Choices" window.  You can click the edit button () next to a symptom to change the details about that symptom, or click the "X" next to a symptom to remove it from your list.

  7. In the "Possible Conditions" window, you will see a list of problems that the symptoms you have selected may be indicative of.  The bar next to each problem shows you how related it is to your symptoms; the fuller the bar, the more likely that condition is causing your symptoms.  Possible conditions are automatically sorted from most relevant to least relevant.

    Click a condition to view more information on WebMD about it.

  8. The entry about the problem on WebMD will have lots of information about the condition, including:

    – General information about it, including other common names for it
    – What symptoms are indicative of it
    – How you possibly got it
    – What you should expect it to do to your health
    – Ways that you can take care of yourself when (or while) you have it
    – How to prevent it in the future
    – When you should see your doctor about it, and what you should ask them
    – Doctors in your area who can treat it (if you entered your ZIP code)

    If you don't think this condition matches what you are feeling or seeing, you can click one of the other conditions on the left-hand side to see information for it.  There is also an option at the bottom of the menu to go back and modify your symptoms.

Remember that (as WebMD will tell you themselves) any information or advice that you get from the Symptom Checker is not conclusive, and that you should always consult with a doctor or other medical professional regarding it!