More than half (51 percent) of adults in the UK self-diagnose when feeling unwell or experiencing a medical symptom, according to findings of a national survey by YouGov released by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.
The data also show that 78 percent of more than 2,000 patients surveyed have looked up medical advice on the internet, while 10 percent said they have used a health app.
Furthermore, it revealed that over two in five (43 percent) have used someone else's pain relief medication after self-diagnosing, which Neal Patel, RPS head of communications, says is "shocking".
"These medicines can be addictive and cause other serious side-effects. If you have severe pain it should always be investigated properly," he stressed. "DIY diagnosis can be downright dangerous. You could be missing something a pharmacist or doctor would know was important".
The warning comes on the back of a surging trend in the use of online sources of information on health and the growing number of new health apps coming on to the market.
"Self-diagnosis online is on the rise but we need to be careful," added community pharmacist Olutayo Arikawe. "Technology has a huge part to play in patient care and can lead to some great benefits, however, diagnosing your own symptoms online should be approached with caution."
Back in October research by consumer analyst Mintel found that younger consumers are more likely to trust online health information over doctors or pharmacists.