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Misdiagnosed Diseases, A Serious Threat

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Feb 07, 2012
4.8 / 5(4 Ratings)
Quick Bites

  • Several conditions can offer similar symptoms.
  • A set of symptoms may hint towards more than one medical condition.
  • Wrong treatment based on misdiagnosis can be life threatening.
  • It is crucial to always perform all tests to confirm the underlying condition.

More

doctor

What makes us more human and natural is our tendency to fall ill. But what makes us even more human is the ability to treat our diseases. The diagnosis and treatment of play a crucial role in our health as well as our life. Ironically, misdiagnosis is still a common problem. With every disease diagnosed incorrectly for known or unknown reasons can prove to be life threatening.

misdiagnosed diseases

Several medical conditions and diseases often show similar symptoms which increase the risk of misdiagnosis. When doctors prefer to rely more on the symptoms, ignoring some crucial tests, it becomes very difficult to correctly diagnose the conditions causing the symptoms. Here are some common conditions that are usually misdiagnosed.

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome

In case you experience headaches and/or ringing or aching ears, along with an aching back, neck, and/or teeth and your doctor diagnoses it as migraines or an ear disorder, there are chances it could actually be something called temporomandibular joint syndrome or TMJ. It refers to the pain, headaches and ear problems caused by the inflammation in the joint that connects your jaw and skull.

TMJ should ideally be treated by a dentist, but chances are, your symptoms will misdirect you to an M.D. If your doctor diagnoses you without carrying out any tests or the medicines that he prescribes do you no help then you must consult a dentist. This way you will be able to relieve yourself from acute pain and discomfort.

If it so happens that your symptoms include numbness on one side, headaches, dizziness, sudden blurred vision, lack of balance or muscle coordination, and/or slurred speech, your doctor may infer these as the result of vertigo, migraine or an inner-ear disorder. However, these symptoms could also be the outcome of a stroke.

strokes

Strokes

Research has revealed that 14% of all stroke cases are misdiagnosed when the patient is below 45. This is because when a person is young and has had no previous history of poor health, the tendency is to ignore very serious causes while making a diagnosis. However, if your stroke goes undetected, the chances are that you may suffer another one which might have very serious consequences.

A stroke can cause impaired speech or vision, paralysis, or even brain damage. If ever you find that you are numb on one side and are experiencing a combination of any of the previously mentioned symptoms, especially for more than an hour then you must immediately go to your nearest hospital without delay.

When you suffer symptoms like fatigue or have trouble breathing coupled with chest pain or tightness and/or palpitations, they could be the signs of a heart attack or heart disease. These symptoms could easily be confused as the outcome of stress or a panic attack. Such potentially fatal mistakes occur largely in female patients because heart attacks are usually more subtle in women, and fatigue and shortness of breath may be the only indications of a heart attack that you receive from your body. It is not surprising then that nearly half of female heart attacks go unidentified. Hence, you must consult a cardiologist without delay, if your initial treatment doesn’t help.

Hypothyroidism

Just like in the previous instances, hypothyroidism could be misdiagnosed as well, but in this case as depression. Hypothyroidism is a condition where your thyroid gland fails to produce sufficient hormones. Its symptoms are sadness and fatigue, weight gain, insomnia, and/or muscle aches or stiffness.

Depression

Depression

Since persistent sadness is associated with depression, your doctor might not consider it necessary to test you for hypothyroidism. If your hypothyroidism remains untreated then it can lead to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, and clinical depression. In case your doctor’s prescribed medicines make no improvements to your mood then you must get a TSH blood test which detects hypothyroidism. Even better would be if you got yourself tested on your first visit itself.

It is unfortunate that despite having all the tools to fight these diseases, people’s lives can be threatened from simply not being able to identify a disease for what it is. We should probably take some of the responsibility too, as quite often we tend to brush aside certain signs, partly out of denial perhaps, or maybe because we don’t want to be seen as overreacting. However, it important that one takes these symptoms seriously as you might just end up saving your own or a dear one’s life.

Image Courtesy: Getty

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