5 Diseases Doctors Often Misdiagnose

When you rely on your doctor to tell you what’s wrong, you’re expecting a perfect diagnosis every time. However, humans are only human, and it’s possible that you may be misdiagnosed. Actually, several diseases commonly see misdiagnoses. Check them out below.

Doctor and patient

Many diseases can be misdiagnosed. | Gpointstudio/iStock/Getty Images

Parkinson’s disease

The issue with Parkinson’s disease is there are no lab tests that can confirm it. It’s simply up to your doctor to observe and understand your symptoms, then give you a diagnosis based on what they observe or what you tell them. This makes it very difficult to differentiate Parkinson’s disease from other movement disorders. As a result, your doctor may believe you have Parkinson’s when you actually have something else — or vice versa. But since Parkinson’s disease is so common (about 1 million people in the United States have the disease), you may be diagnosed with Parkinson’s when it’s actually another movement disorder entirely.

Lyme disease

It’s difficult to diagnose Lyme disease. Actually, in order to diagnose it, someone must see a “Lyme literate medical doctor” or LLMD, in order to confirm. That’s because these doctors have extensive experience with the disease and can give a more accurate diagnosis compared to just any physician. The problem with Lyme disease is its blood test results commonly turn up “false negatives.” The western blot method is unreliable for determining Lyme, which means it must be a clinical diagnosis (diagnosed based on signs and symptoms rather than test results). This leaves a lot of room for a error. If you think you may have Lyme disease, it could benefit you to get a second opinion.

Celiac disease

Celiac disease is fairly rare, and its symptoms align with many symptoms of other diseases, which makes it difficult to accurately diagnose. According to celiac.com, the most common misdiagnoses are irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease, GERD, and ulcers. Most people are told they have IBS when they actually have irritable bowel syndrome because the two have similar symptoms. IBS is the disease for which celiac is most commonly mistaken.

Thyroid problems

Your thyroid plays a role in many bodily functions. When your thyroid isn’t working properly, it can lead to weight problems, energy problems, mood issues, and more. But the way most doctors test for a thyroid problem is by testing the TSH levels (thyroid hormone) in your body. However, the test frequently doesn’t say what it should. Your thyroid levels often come back fine, even if there is a thyroid problem. This leads to common misdiagnoses. In most cases of a problematic thyroid, the TSH levels would be out of whack. But that’s not always the case, which is why the test is unreliable and people are often misdiagnosed.

Cancer

Certain cancers are commonly misdiagnosed because they present symptoms that reflect other diseases. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, lung, breast, and colorectal cancer misdiagnoses accounted for nearly 10% of all misdiagnoses in the study. Fox News reported that in most cases, the diagnosis was delayed because doctors failed to have their patients get a biopsy, even after abnormal test results. That can lead to treatment for other conditions, and it often isn’t realized that it’s cancer until those other treatments prove not to work. When dealing with something as serious as cancer, it’s always important to get a second opinion.

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