Twitter posts can be used as an important source of public health information, reveal John Hopkins University scientists.
They discovered that Twitter posts reveal key patterns and trends related to health, from which ailments are on the rise in certain areas of the country to which medicines are actually working.
AdvertisementFor the result, researchers studied 2 billion public tweets posted between May 2009 and October 2010.
"Our goal was to find out whether Twitter posts could be a useful source of public health information and we determined that indeed they could," Fox News quoted computer scientist Mark Drezd as saying.
"In some cases, we probably learned things that even the tweeters' doctors were not aware of, such as which over-the-counter medicines the posters were using to treat their symptoms at home," he said.
Patterns about allergies, flu cases, insomnia, cancer, obesity, depression, pain and other ailments were uncovered from health-related tweets.
The researchers also discovered that some tweets even pointed to misuse of medicine.
"We found that some people tweeted that they were taking antibiotics for the flu," said computer scientist Michael J. Paul.
"But antibiotics don't work on the flu, which is a virus, and this practice could contribute to the growing antibiotic resistance problems.
"So these tweets showed us that some serious medical misperceptions exist out there," he expressed.