Some illnesses are so common, you’d be surprised how often they’re misdiagnosed. This can be for many different reasons. Sometimes several illnesses mimic nearly all of the same symptoms with minor differences. Other illnesses require symptom elimination, which can take a while to go through each one. Here are three commonly misdiagnosed illnesses that everyone should know about.
Celiac disease has gained a lot more awareness with the gluten-free movement that has been storming through the United States. There is a lot of confusion about what Celiac actually is. Everyone should be aware because the average time to become properly diagnosed with Celiac is about six to 10 years. Taking too long to be diagnosed with Celiac disease can lead to irreversible damage in the small intestines, and in more severe cases, even death. Celiac is extremely important to diagnose as early as possible.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes a severe intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat. It can affect people differently. If you have any of these symptoms, you should speak to a doctor about it, so your doctor can start taking steps to diagnose you. Symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Pale stools
- Weight loss
- Muscle cramps
- Joint pain
- Mouth sores
- Anemia (low iron)
Children with Celiac may have been diagnosed with failure to thrive (FTT) because they exhibit severe growth problems. Women with Celiac often experience irregular and missed menstrual periods. Celiac disease can cause other health problems such as vitamin and mineral deficiencies, Osteoporosis, infertility, chronic miscarriages, and birth defects. In rare cases, it can cause intestinal cancer.
Celiac disease is severe. The intolerance causes the small intestines to swell and become damaged. Eventually, surgery to move portions of the damaged intestines may be required. If you are worried you have Celiac disease, you should immediately eliminate foods containing gluten from your diet and consult with a doctor immediately. Internal Medicine doctors, like Dr. Bruce Eaton, are your best choice.
Lyme disease is another serious disease that often goes undiagnosed. Lyme mimics symptoms of illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, ALS, Parkinson’s Disease, and fibromyalgia. In fact, many people with Lyme start out with a fibromyalgia diagnosis. Lyme can be easy to spot for some, because if a tick is infected with Lyme when it bites you, it sometimes leaves a tell-tale bullseye mark around the bite. However, the CDC has discovered that only 42% of people who have lime initially presented with a rash, and some people have different types of Lyme rashes. Sometimes people do have a rash and don’t notice. If the bite is in a hard-to-see place like your back or under your hair, you might never see it.
Lyme disease can produce a wide range of symptoms when left untreated. Common symptoms of Lyme include:
- Cognitive impairment
- Mood changes
- Muscle pain
- Difficulty sleeping
- Severe joint pain
- Heart-related issues
- Bell’s Palsy
The early stages of Lyme feel similar to the flu. Chronic Lyme generally presents much more severe patients. 3/4 of Lyme sufferers report that they have at least one severe symptom. On average, people with Lyme each have about three severe or very severe symptoms. Luckily, Lyme can be diagnosed through a blood test. If you have any of these symptoms, it would be a good idea to ask for a blood test to rule out Lyme at the very beginning. When found early, cognitive impairment can be eliminated or much less severe.
Endometriosis is a commonly misdiagnosed disease that affects between 10 and 20% of women in the United States. Endometriosis can strike any woman at any given time. There are no known risk factors that increase your risk, including age, race, and socioeconomic class. Endometriosis is extremely painful, but since many women commonly have menstrual pain, it often goes unnoticed. Endometriosis is where the uterine lining grows outside of the uterus, most commonly inside of the abdominal cavity.
With endometriosis, the uterine lining still acts as it would if it weren’t misplaced. It thickens throughout the month, and it sheds when the affected women starts her period. Unfortunately, the lining has nowhere to go, so it begins to build up, causing excess pain during the menstrual cycle. Sometimes it affects the ovaries, which can cause lesions, scar tissue, and cysts. Symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Excessive bleeding during periods
- Bleeding between periods
- Painful intercourse
- Excessive pain during periods
- Pain with urination and bowel movements
The most common cause of endometriosis is retrograde menstruation. This is where menstrual blood that contains endometrial cells backup into the pelvic cavity and fallopian tubes. These cells can stick to the walls of pelvic organs and continue to grow. Other causes include surgical scar implantation, immune system disorders, and embryonic cell growth.
Endometriosis is most commonly cured with a hysterectomy. If the endometriosis hasn’t spread to the fallopian tubes, you will likely be able to only have your uterus removed. If it has spread to your fallopian tubes, you will likely need them removed as well.
These three illnesses can cause serious complications when left untreated. If you are exhibiting symptoms that mimic any of these illnesses, make sure you see a doctor immediately for testing