In over 40% of cases, doctors make incorrect diagnoses, experts say. This mostly happens because many symptoms can signify different diseases, and sometimes it’s very difficult to reveal the right one.
We at Bright Side have collected the most common conditions that can be disguised as something else.
1. Lyme disease vs flu
This disease is known for the bullseye rash that appears when a person gets infected after getting bit by a tick. However, there are some cases that pass without this rash. Instead, patients can have symptoms like body aches, fever, and fatigue, all of which doctors usually end up diagnosing as the flu.
A blood test can’t tell a lot in this case, because the body doesn’t start to develop antibodies that signal this condition until after 2 weeks. So, if doctors suspect Lyme disease, they will give you a one-time antibiotic that prevents the long-term effects of it.
2. Kidney stones vs abdominal aortic aneurysm
Kidney stones can be misdiagnosed as many other conditions, and an abdominal aortic aneurysm is the most dangerous one among them. Both start with very strong and sharp abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting. An aortic aneurysm happens when an abnormal bulge occurs in the wall of the aorta, which if ruptured, can be fatal.
Doctors suggest that in a patient age 60 or older, who’s never had a kidney stone, an aortic aneurysm must be ruled out first.ADVERTISEMENT
3. Hepatitis vs allergies
Hepatitis can last for years without any symptoms, however, it can cause real harm to your liver during this time. The most common symptoms of liver problems are stomach pain, itching, and fatigue which can all be written off as many other conditions, like allergies. That’s why it’s very important to pay attention to the color of your eyes and tongue — if you notice them turning yellow, you should visit a doctor immediately.
4. Thyroid issues vs high blood pressure
The thyroid gland is a very important part of the body, since it controls many hormones. When the thyroid gland is underactive (hypothyroidism) you may experience symptoms like weight gain, sensitivity to temperature, and fatigue, which can often be mistaken for conditions like depression.
Another thyroid issue is when it’s overactive (hyperthyroidism), which causes weight loss, irritability, and a rapid heartbeat. These symptoms are also very common for many diseases like high blood pressure. That’s why it’s important to have your thyroid gland hormones checked.
5. Pulmonary embolism vs panic attack
This very dangerous condition occurs when a blood spot blocks the pulmonary artery in the lungs, causing sharp chest pain, shortness of breath, anxiety, and fainting. Since these symptoms look similar to other conditions like panic attacks, pneumonia, or a heart attack, according to a study, it’s misdiagnosed in 33.5% of cases.
6. Celiac disease vs gastrointestinal tract infections
Celiac disease, in simple terms, is an inability to digest gluten. Gluten is primarily found in wheat and certain other grains. About 83% of people with this disease either go undiagnosed or have been misdiagnosed with other conditions, doctors say. The reason for this is that the symptoms of it vary from person to person and are very common for other diseases of the gastrointestinal tract which can consist of stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, and more.
7. Lupus vs kidney and lung issues
This chronic inflammatory disease has many faces and its symptoms are often non-specific and very different. Even though it’s known for its telltale butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks, some patients don’t have it. Other symptoms may include fatigue, joint pain, and kidney and lung problems.
That’s why it’s very difficult for a doctor to diagnose it at first — usually, it only comes to mind once many other diseases are ruled out.
8. Stroke vs alcohol intoxication
Unfortunately, according to research, doctors often overlook or discount the early signs of a stroke. A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted, and this condition is often misdiagnosed with vertigo, migraines, or alcohol intoxication. This happens because a stroke’s symptoms include vision problems, trouble speaking, confusion, and an altered mental state.
9. Cancer vs many other conditions
No one wants to hear this diagnosis, however, the sooner it’s detected, the higher are chances of recovery are. But according to the Journal of Clinical Oncology, doctors misdiagnose certain types of cancer up to 44% of the time. This happens because diagnostic tools are not accurate enough and the symptoms are often very ambiguous. Lung cancer can be disguised as a lung infection, breast cancer as mastitis, etc. So it’s very important to get a second opinion, if you suspect a serious condition like cancer.
10. Appendicitis vs irritable bowel syndrome
Appendicitis is widely known for its main symptom: pain in the lower right part of the belly. However, in many cases, its symptoms appear in different places, thus making it pretty difficult to diagnose. Sometimes it could be mixed with irritable bowel syndrome, if you have vomiting and nausea too.
Since a ruptured appendix is a life-threatening condition, it’s very important to not ignore belly pain, regardless of its location.
11. Rheumatoid arthritis vs other joints issues
There are so many joint diseases that can feel the same as the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, that diagnosing it becomes quite a hard job. Even a tiny bunion on a foot can signal the disease despite being a very common condition that seems harmless in most cases.
Usually, if problems with joints are present for a long time, chronic diseases like RA can be clearly seen, experts say.
12. Venous insufficiency vs heart disease
If your ankles and feet swell, it can be an early symptom of venous insufficiency. This is a condition when the blood can’t properly move up the veins from the legs and feet up to the heart. This condition, if it becomes chronic, can lead to many other problems.
However, many other conditions, such as heart disease, can also have swollen legs as a symptom among others, so venous insufficiency can be often missed as a separate diagnosis.