Best Symptom Checkers Comparison

November 05, 2019

Does this scenario sound familiar? Your alarm goes off and you wake up in a feverish sweat. As your head throbs, you shoot off an email to your boss saying you won’t be in. You search for a symptom checker online, and a host of online disease diagnostic tools and symptom checker apps populate the page.

Which symptom tracker do you use? After all, they all promise a simple interface, and, more importantly, accurate diagnoses.

Searching for an accurate online self-diagnosis tool, be it to confirm flu symptoms or to uncover the reason behind your back pain, is an arduous task. Many symptom checker apps paint with broad strokes and can give you an overwhelming amount of diagnostic possibilities. Others don’t have the ability to check multiple symptoms at once.

Here are some of the most popular symptom checkers on the market and how they stack up. We rated them out of five, with 5 being the highest score and 1 being the lowest.

K Health: 5/5

K Health

Pros: It’s super accurate. Every time I’ve used it, I get the right diagnosis.

The reason is because K Health uses artificial intelligence, paired with millions of anonymized medical charts, to show people how doctors in the real world diagnosed people similar to them. According to TechCrunch, the app uses “a data set of two billion historical health events over the past 20 years.” The app also connects you with an actual doctor, and, if necessary, they can prescribe medication right over the app. Even better? Users can continue to chat with their doctor after the initial exchange – at no extra cost. Not bad.

Cons: As of now, it can only be accessed through a mobile app. If you consider yourself more of a desktop person, you may have to wait on K Health. The app is free for informational purposes but some services, like professional help from board-certified doctors, costs $49 annually. The fact users can communicate with the doctor continuously after the initial appointment negates this downside.

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WebMD Symptom Checker: 3/5

WebMD/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Pros: The interface is intuitive and simple to use. Users first enter their sex and age. They are then asked to add multiple symptoms they are experiencing. Users have the option of adding any prescriptions they are on, which can also play into a diagnosis. Once you have finished adding all of your information, the WebMD Symptom Checker gives you a list of results, and you can click on each diagnosis for more information.

Cons: The platform has been ridiculed for inaccurate diagnoses regarding eye issues. When we put in symptoms of the common cold, eight results – including common cold – popped up. When we inserted typical knee pain symptoms, the WebMD symptom checker gave us 12 potential diagnoses, ranging from a meniscus tear to septic arthritis. The disparity in diagnoses can be vast and somewhat vague, depending on your symptoms.

Mayo Clinic Symptom Checker: 3/5

Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

Pros: The symptom checker allows users to check symptoms for both adults and children. It also has a smaller amount of symptom choices at the beginning, which could be helpful to a user who doesn’t know where to start. Once a user has finished filling everything out, the Mayo Clinic Symptom Checker outlines potential diagnoses. In addition, it lists related symptoms that could mean you require immediate medical attention.

Cons: Despite being an authority in the medical world, Mayo Clinic’s symptom checker doesn’t translate well to mobile. The checker is only available online – not in app form. It also doesn’t give the user as much wiggle room when it comes to selecting symptoms. Once you pick from the pre-chosen symptoms, the symptom checker asks about “related factors,” like frequency of the issue.

Family Doctor: 2/5

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Pros: The symptoms in step one are listed in alphabetical order, making it easier for some users to select a symptom. It also asks in-depth followup questions regarding the user’s symptoms and alerts you if an emergency visit is deemed necessary. The site is powered by the American Academy of Family Physicians, or AAFP, which makes their medical advice diagnosis or treatment feel reassuring.

Cons: The interface has limited choices when it comes to selecting symptoms. In fact, users can only select one symptom, not multiple symptoms. Once you choose a main symptom, Family Doctor lists followup questions to narrow down a diagnosis – and it only gives you one. For example, we put in all the symptoms of a common cold, and it said it was likely allergies.

RxList Symptom Checker: 2/5

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Pros: This website can be helpful for those who are more visual. Users start by selecting the part of the body they are experiencing symptoms. The followup questions are specific, and the possible conditions listed once you are finished are ranked by likelihood.

Cons: This is another symptom checker from WebMD. Again, we put in the standard symptoms of the common cold, and RxList Symptom Checker spat out 25 possible conditions, with allergies at the top, even though we did not list any allergies when asked. A lot of the proposed conditions range in severity as well.

Mercy Symptom Checker: 2/5

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Pros: Mercy Symptom Checker does offer a lot of information, but the interface is not as intuitive as other health checkers. The causes and background information provided for each symptom provides answers to questions commonly asked with that ailment. For example, if a user selects “pelvic pain,” the Causes and Info tab provides more insight as to who this affects and what it could mean for their health.

Cons: Users cannot input multiple symptoms into this checker. Instead, users select one main symptom and then answer followup questions in order to help narrow down a diagnosis. Unfortunately, some symptoms can be common with several ailments and, unless you have been tracking your symptoms very carefully, it could be difficult to answer some of the followup questions. Depending on how you answer, Mercy Symptom Checker will tell you whether or not you should seek medical attention – but it doesn’t suggest what the ailment could be.

In the end, K Health is the most comprehensive of all the symptom checker and disease diagnostic tools available.

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Downloading the app is free, and for $49 annually, users get to talk to real doctors and get real expert advice – not algorithmic answers. The cost itself is lower than some co-pays or how much it would cost to visit a general practitioner out of pocket.