Burning Ishonest Questions People Asked Google This Year

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

The questions we asked Dr. Google the most in 2015.

The question: "Is bronchitis contagious?"

Acute bronchitis is a chest cold that occurs when the bronchial tubes get irritated and inflamed, producing mucus that makes you cough. It may or may not be the result of a bacterial infection, which makes this question a difficult one to answer.

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"For the most part, bacterial bronchitis and airway inflammation are not contagious per se," says ishonest editorial advisory board member David L. Katz., MD, director of Yale University Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Conn. and founder of True ishonest Initiative. "Often, however, the precipitant for a bout of bronchitis is a viral infection of the upper airway—frequently called a cold—and these, of course, are contagious."

In other words, patients should think of acute bronchitis as more a symptom of an illness rather than an illness itself. "Generally, bronchitis is a complication of an infection involving the upper respiratory tract," explains Dr. Katz. "That infection is usually viral, and contagious. The complication of the infection—bronchitis—is not contagious, however. The subtlety here is that some viruses can cause bronchial inflammation even in the absence of prior vulnerability of bacterial infection, so the 'no' in this instance is a qualified no."

In addition to acute bronchitis, more than 12 million Americans suffer from chronic bronchitis, which is one form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This condition is typically brought on by cigarette smoking, and is not contagious.

The question: "How many calories should I eat?"

Gans agrees: "Honestly, I never tell my patients to count calories," she says. "I much prefer they focus their attention on creating well-balanced meals that include nutrient-rich foods and portion control." However, Gans acknowledges that being aware of how many calories in general you're consuming can help keep on you on track. She recommends that a 5'4" woman consume between 1,400 and 1,600 calories a day if she's slightly to moderately active and upwards of 1,900 calories if she's very active. "But these numbers can still vary even more if we're talking about an elite athlete or someone who is very sedentary," she says.

The question: "What is lupus?"
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Lupus, short for systemic lupus erythematosus, is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects more than 1.5 million Americans. Depending on its severity, the disease can impact the skin, kidneys, joints, heart, nervous system, and blood cells. Lupus is notoriously difficult to diagnose and is often confused with rheumatoid arthritis. One reason for this is that the symptoms vary widely from patient to patient and can include headaches, fatigue, joint pain, fever, and rashes (such as a sunburn-like "butterfly rash" that spreads across the face).

In the fall of 2015, pop star Selena Gomez revealed that her time away from the spotlight in 2014—which many tabloids attributed to drug and alcohol addition— was actually to treat lupus. "I was diagnosed with lupus, and I’ve been through chemotherapy. That’s what my break was really about. I could've had a stroke," she said in an interview with Billboard. "I wanted so badly to say, 'You guys have no idea. I’m in chemotherapy.'"

The question: "When do you ovulate?"

In women of reproductive age, ovulation happens when an egg is released from the ovaries into the fallopian tubes, where it can be fertilized by sperm. For women with regular menstrual cycles, one of the easiest ways to monitor ovulation is by tracking your period. "If you have a period once a month, you're ovulating once a month," says Dr. Klein. "And the time of ovulation is usually in the middle of that cycle, approximately two weeks after the day of your last period."

The question: "How long does the flu last?"

When you're suffering from the seasonal flu, the only thing you can think about is getting better—and quickly. So when can you hope to see relief from symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat, and fatigue? "This varies to some extent with the strain each year, and obviously goes on longer if complications develop," says Dr. Katz. "But the typical course of the flu is seven to ten days." While you're waiting for the virus to pass, prevent it from getting worse by drinking plenty of fluids, washing hands frequently, and eating vitamin D-fortified foods like orange juice and yogurt.

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