Upper-Intermediate Reading Lesson: Confessions of a Cyberchondriac

Upper-Intermediate Reading Lesson: Confessions of a Cyberchondriac

Cyberchondriac /ˌsʌɪbəˈkɒndrɪak/ a person who compulsively searches the Internet for information about particular real or imagined symptoms of illness


  • Have you heard the term “cyberchondriac” before?
  • Do you think there are a lot of cyberchondriacs? Do you know any?
  • Why would someone want to compulsively search the Internet for information about particular symptoms of illness?
  • Have you aver acted like a cyberchondriac?

Hypochondriac /hʌɪpə(ʊ)ˈkɒndrɪak/ a person who is abnormally anxious about their health (the condition is hypochondria)

  • Would you describe yourself as a hypochondriac?
  • Are you a health-conscious person?
  • How do you make sure you are healthy?
  • How do some people become hypochondriacs?


(Source: American English File 4. Second Edition)

Read the article completing the paragraphs with topic sentences (sentences that express the main idea of the paragraphs in which they occur):

A Another problem for cyberchondriacs is that online medical information may be from an unreliable source or be out of date.

B Sadly, the problem with Dr.Google is that he isn’t exactly a comfort in times of crisis.

C The Microsoft study also revealed another serious problem – that online information often doesn’t discriminate between common and very rare conditions.

D Unfortunately, once you have it, cyberchondria can be hard to cure.

E Four hours later, I got a diagnosis.

Screen Shot 2019-07-01 at 0.55.41.png

GP – General Practitioner: a doctor who deals with general medical problems and treats the families in a particular area

ER – emergency room

EKG (= ECG) – electrocardiogram /ɪˌlektrəʊˈkɑː(r)diəˌɡræm/

  • Do you think the narrator can face up to the problem of being a cyberchondriac? Why/why not?
  • Why isn’t Dr.Google a comfort in times of crisis?
  • What did the Microsoft study show?
  • In your opinion, why can cyberchondria be hard to cure?


Match the highlighted words and phrases in the article with definitions 1-11:

  1. ________________ (adj) likely to cause someone to die
  2. ________________ (n) a small blister in the mouth that can be very painful but is not serious
  3. ________________ (n) ways of curing illnesses that are not traditional medicine, e.g. herbal medicine
  4. ________________ (idiom) not feeling very well
  5. ________________  (n) a serious illness caused by a group of cells in the body increasing in an uncontrolled way
  6. ________________  (n) a disease or other medical condition that is caused by bacteria or by a virus or a parasite
  7. ________________ (n) the speed at which your heart beats
  8. ________________ (n) medical treatment in which a doctor cuts open someone’s body
  9. ________________ (n) the number of times your heart beats in a minute
  10. ________________ (n) a mass of cells in your body that grow in a way that is not normal
  11. ________________ (n) successful treatments for illnesses that were thought to be impossible to cure

Use one of the highlighted words and phrases to complete the sentences:

  1. The nurse took my ________________.
  2. The injuries are serious but not ________________.
  3. Aerobic exercise increases your ________________.
  4. He is a busy doctor and has to perform several ________________ a day. 
  5. ________________ are common and should clear up on their own within a week.
  6. If a ________________ existed, I’d be tempted to seek it out. 
  7. I’m feeling a bit ________________ – I think I’m getting a cold.
  8. The ________________ spread to his lungs.
  9. ________________ can include vitamins and folk remedies.
  10. A malignant (opposite: benign /bəˈnaɪn/) ________________ is a cancer. 
  11. He died of lung ________________.

Answer the questions:

  • When was the last time you were under the weather? What caused the condition?
  • What is your opinion about self-treatment?
  • Do you undergo annual health checkups?
  • Do you agree that prevention is better than cure? (more health proverbs are here)
  • What advice would you give cyberchondriacs?


Answer key:

Topic sentences: 1 B, 2 E, 3 C, 4 D, 5 A

Definitions: 1. life-threatening, 2. mouth ulcer /ˈʌlsə(r)/, 3. alternative remedies, 4. under the weather, 5. cancer, 6. infection, 7. heart rate, 8. surgery 9. pulse, 10. tumor, 11. miracle cures

Sentence completion: 1. pulse, 2. life-threatening, 3. heart rate, 4. surgeries, 5. mouth ulcers, 6. miracle cure, 7. under the weather, 8. infection, 9. alternative remedies, 10. tumor, 11. cancer

Materials used: “American English File 4 second edition” by C.Latham-Koenig and C.Oxenden

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