According to a study published by the VA Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety, misdiagnoses occur nationwide at a rate of 5.08%, which amounts to about 12 million cases per year. This can lead to worsening conditions, financial stress, and irreversible bodily damage. For patients, it is generally difficult to go against a doctor’s word, especially if they are unknowledgeable about their physiology or not confident in their ability to speak up.
Remember that while a doctor’s opinion is ultimately the best and most accurate representation of your health, you should constantly be vigilant of your symptoms and your power as a patient. Here are some common misdiagnoses, and some of the best ways you can deal with the aftermath.
1. Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a disease generally caused by a tick bite. The symptoms are easily confused with other common bacterial infections, so the chance for a misdiagnosis is especially high. If you have confusing muscle and joint pain, stiffness, and a rash that won’t go away, you may want to check if your animals have any ticks, and if so, tell your doctor about the possible exposure to the disease. Often, people with Lyme disease go undiagnosed for around a year before the proper conclusion is reached, so keep the possibility in your mind when dealing with these symptoms.
Depression often goes misdiagnosed
Depression is a mood disorder generally caused by trauma, genetics, or an overall impairment of the frontal lobe. Because this disorder is classified by mental symptoms, it can be difficult for a depressed person to get the help they need. Changes in mood, sleep, and thinking patterns are difficult to pinpoint by medical health professionals, so keep in mind that your doctor may not be equipped or aware of the changes in your thoughts.
If you find yourself in a period where you lose interest in your favorite activities, you find yourself feeling more tired than usual, or if you begin to have suicidal thoughts, you may need to contact a mental health professional who is specifically trained to diagnose and treat depression or other related mental health disorders.
3. Low Testosterone
For men, especially, a low libido or energy level can easily be misdiagnosed as a lack of testosterone. If you have trouble getting an erection, your doctor may immediately point to testosterone as the main culprit. However, this symptom can be attributed to a number of health issues, like stress, anxiety, substance abuse, or even bodily disorders including your thyroid or blood pressure. If you have been diagnosed with low testosterone, and the treatment you have received did not alleviate your issues, you have the chance to learn about your legal options. Remember that sexual health is a combination of multiple factors, not just your reproductive hormones.
4. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
If you have been having issues with your digestive health, you may have been told that you simply have IBS or irritable bowel syndrome. While this is a common ailment, and it may be true for you, it is also possible that your symptoms have simply been lost in the diagnosis. Because symptoms for digestive illnesses are so similar, it is easy for a diagnosis to point in the wrong direction.
If your doctor has diagnosed you with IBS, but your treatment isn’t helping, consider revisiting your physician and letting them know that your symptoms have not been alleviated. Remember, a doctor will think that no news is good news, so don’t be afraid to bring up issues with your treatment at any time.
These are not the only misdiagnosed illnesses in the medical field. However, the same simple advice generally reigns true for most cases; stay in touch with your doctor throughout your healing process, and remember that you always have a say in your health.