We all worry about our health every now and then; we may even flirt with the idea of having some strange and exotic diseases. For some people however, there is a constant fear of being ill even when they are completely healthy.

This constant anxiety is known as hypochondria, which refers to worry about having a serious illness. Hypochondriacs become unduly alarmed about any physical or psychological symptoms they detect, no matter how minor the symptom may be, and are convinced that they have, or are about to be diagnosed with, a serious illness.

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When a hypochondriac is convinced they have an illness, a physician’s assurance of healthy state may still not be enough persuade them that they are healthy. Below are some of the signs that hypochondriacs may exhibit:

  • For a person with hypochondria, normal bodily functions as heart beats, sweating, and bowel movements can seem like symptoms of a serious condition, and minor abnormalities, such as a runny nose, slightly swollen lymph nodes, and a small sore, can feel like serious problems.

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  • Some hypochondriacs  express doubt in the doctors' diagnosis, and report that doctors’ reassurance about an absence of a serious medical condition is unconvincing, or short-lasting.

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  • Some individuals with the disorder may avoid medical attention, through fear of finding out that they have a serious illness. They may avoid people, places, and activities that they believe could pose a health risk.

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  • Health anxiety may cause people to talk excessively about their health, and they may make frequent visits to their physician. They may spend a lot of time searching the internet for symptoms of possible illnesses.

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  • Some hypochondriacs may experience “white coat syndrome” which is an elevated blood pressure, stress, and anxiety in the presence of doctors or when they are close to a medical facility.

By Eyram Kuwornu