Do You Have an Undiagnosed Medical Condition?
Medical conditions that go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed can cause feelings of hopelessness and anger for a patient and their families. I was reading an interesting post in KevinMD.com concerning a chronic misdiagnosis in a patient who was finally, after a year, correctly diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Reading this article, I thought about a close friend who is also struggling with an undiagnosed medical condition, despite several visits to see the family doctor, consultations with specialists in four different areas, several scans and blood tests. Why do some diseases and medical conditions take so long to be diagnosed? Looking closely at the two medical cases I can see some reasons why.
CASE 1: Several Trips To Emergency Department Didn’t Yield Answers
If you read the medical case from the patient misdiagnosed with Crohn’s disease here are some possible reasons why she was misdiagnosed by six specialists:
1. It appears she never went to see her primary or family doctor, if she had one. Thus, her misdiagnosis happened during each of her six visits to the Emergency room. Each emergency visit pushed her to see specialists on the spot having to make a diagnosis while she was sick and in pain.
2. She went to the Emergency Department when her pain became unbearable (6 times over the year) rather than seeking an opinion of her medical illness when she felt well.
3. The specialists she saw in the Emergency Department focused on their specialty domain and failed to look at overall illness of this patient. A general practitioner is trained to look at a patient this way, while a specialist focuses on their speciality.
4. One specialist should have diagnosed her correctly; further testing in this domain would have led to answers sooner.
5. Providing family history as part of the medical exam was crucial in this patient’s case. Crohn’s disease is often seen in family members, thus it has a genetic component. Her case was eventually diagnosed because a family member was recently diagnosed with this disease and the specialist honed in on this vital information and ordered the correct medical tests for diagnosis.
Case 2: Undiagnosed Medical Condition But Small Steps Will Lead to Answers
As I mentioned, I have a close friend who is struggling with an undiagnosed illness. However, I feel she is on the way to finding out what is wrong with her health. What is she doing right?
1. Seeing her family or primary doctor on a regular basis. She is not giving up and is pushing for more explanations/tests on what is causing her medical issues.
2. Keeping a track of her symptoms; keeping her blood results and scans all in a file which she brings to each specialist.
3. Seeing and following up with the specialists that her family doctor suggested she consults with. No answers from four of them (in different domains), but I feel confident that specialist number five will be the one to finally give some answers.
4. Doing her own research in what she thinks the problem might be. With this my friend feels proactive rather than inactive.
5. Taking a look at her overall health and doing steps to stay balanced and well such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and stress releasing techniques.
6. Having and using a good support system with family and friends to lean on.
And lastly, don’t give up hope.
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