Infections from 12 Diseases Doctors Most Often Misdiagnose
12 Diseases Doctors Most Often Misdiagnose
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Is it the winter blues, is it stress or is it clinical depression? One in four patients has the “wrong” condition after seeing a professional, according to a study. Symptoms are feelings people experience every day – sadness, unease, worry, and bad temper. Many patients feel tired all the time (how many times have you said that about yourself this week alone?), can’t fall asleep or sleep all the time. And if the multiple symptoms are not enough, they can be of several other conditions as well – bipolar disorder or PTSD.
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Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by pain and tenderness throughout the body. Your muscles hurt; you feel tired, anxious and can’t sleep. Many general practitioners will first consider this is all caused by arthritis or chronic fatigue symptom. People who suffer from fibromyalgia often have a family history of the illness. There are no lab tests to show evidence of the condition. Diagnosing this condition also may depend on what kind of doctor you see: If you go to a gastroenterologist, he or she may conclude that you have irritable bowel syndrome.
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Most people think a heart attack is obvious – your chest feel tight and hurt, stomach pain, can’t breathe, cold sweat – but some people don’t experience any of this. Older people often think it’s simply heartburn. A study says that women often don’t feel chest pain which is why men receive faster care for possible heart attack than women. Doctors can get it wrong if the patients don’t have all the signs and diagnose gallstones, gastritis or simply nervousness instead.
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This is a hard one. Many of the patients with celiac disease have heard that something else was wrong and not their body’s inability to digest gluten. That’s because symptoms are almost as unique as every person – abdominal pain, headache, joint pain, itchy skin, vomiting. Sometimes there are no visible problems at all. Celiac disease is most often confused with irritable bowel syndrome. It can even take up to a decade for a patient to be properly diagnosed. Only about half of people intolerant to gluten lose a lot of weight, which is another indicator. A blood test confirms the diagnosis.
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If you see bull’s-eye rashes on your body, you look for tick bites. That’s common sense. But what happens if you don’t have any rashes? You won’t look for tick bites and you doctor may not either. People have the disease for a little more than a year, on average, before they get the right diagnosis, according to a study. Other Lyme disease symptoms resemble the flu and include stiff neck, vomiting, cramping. A blood test can show antibodies in the blood they show up weeks after you’ve already been infected.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
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This is another illness for which there is no real test. Identifying that a person has irritable bowel syndrome is a process of elimination. This chronic condition affecting the large intestine causes abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation, all of which can be caused by other conditions or just after not eating good food. People have to feel the discomfort for months before doctors consider IBS.
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Tiredness, rashes and joint pain…symptoms all too common for other health problems other than this chronic inflammatory disease. Doctors misdiagnose it for arthritis or fibromyalgia. A butterfly-shaped rash across a patient's cheeks is the biggest telltale but some people don’t have it. That’s when confirming lupus gets tricky. Blood and urine tests are needed for that along with a complete physical.
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Cancer has unfortunately become so common – it is the second most common cause of death in the U.S., accounting for nearly one of every four deaths – that it is misdiagnosed in 28 percent of the cases, up to 44 percent for some types of cancer. The most common types of the disease that doctors get wrong sometimes are breast cancer, melanoma, gynecological cancer, colorectal cancer and hematological cancer. The reasons vary from missing medical history to not enough time for tests.
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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
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This autoimmune disorder can occur at any age and its symptoms include stiffness and joint pain which can be a reason for many other not very serious health problems. Blood tests can help but sometimes inflammation in a large enough joint can stay hidden leading to inconclusive results. Lupus and fibromyalgia may easily be confused with RA. Symptoms might develop following certain infections as well so people don’t pay a lot of attention.
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You may not know for years if your thyroid gland is underactive – not producing enough hormones that help regulate weight and mood. Symptoms are usually very subtle in the beginning. They are also very common – tiredness, weight gain (loss), forgetfulness, lack of concentration. All of these are easily associated with depression or simply getting out of shape.