You don’t want to feel helpless when you need some sort of medical help. Even if you just need a pair of glasses or knee braces for an old injury, it feels good to know the medical jargon. However, there is reason to think that knowing the jargon can be harmful.

In the age of WebMD, people who seem to know it all are often completely off the mark. They don’t have the knowledge that professionals do, and while the symptoms may match up, they don’t realize that they’re missing crucial context. There’s a fine line between knowing it all and being a know-it-all.

Using medical jargon can therefore make it seem like you’re showing off your knowledge about something you really know little about. You may feel more comfortable simply leaving all the jargon to the pros.

But the truth is that there is benefit to knowing medical jargon, even if you’re not about to self-diagnose using incomplete online sources. Here are the reasons it is worth knowing medical jargon.

Professionals give you options

When you go to a medical provider, they may come to a clear diagnosis, but that does not mean the treatment is clear-cut. The best professionals give you options for treatment. And when they do, your knowledge of medical jargon will make the information far easier to process.

For example, when your optometrist diagnoses an astigmatism, they may offer you the choice between bifocal glasses and progressive lenses. If you know what an astigmatism is, the decision is easier to make. If you know the difference between the types of lenses, you’re even better positioned to decide.

Medical providers make mistakes

It is unwise to go to a doctor with a diagnosis you made based on information you found online. Your doctor will know much more from a high-level perspective. However, that does not mean they’re infallible. On the contrary, all medical providers sometimes make mistakes.

Knowing the jargon gives you the opportunity to process what they are telling you and assess whether it makes sense to you. If it does not, you can ask the right questions. And if they still give you answers that feel off, you can go to another provider for a second opinion.

It’s possible that you’re in denial or simply don’t understand the information fully, but at least you have the opportunity to identify potential misdiagnoses.

Jargon is important for learning

Just because your doctor knows more than you doesn’t mean you should forgo learning about your health issues yourself. It is important to get a grip on what is going on medically, so that you can take care of yourself in the best way possible. Knowledge also gives you a sense of control during a time in which you may feel helpless.

Jargon is necessary when you are learning. When you understand the jargon, you are able to process complex ideas through a few new words. This makes learning possible, as it would otherwise take you ages to learn the most basic information.

Medical jargon is important to know, even if you have no misguided trust in your own self-diagnoses. It empowers you as a patient and gives you the opportunity to learn.