5 Diseases That Doctors Are Likely to Misdiagnose!


Doctors are well aware of the importance of accurate diagnosis- diagnostic errors result in delayed treatment, and this can prove to be fatal to patients. While doctors have patients' best interests at heart, they can be stumped when patients present nonspecific or variable symptoms.

To add to this, there are no diagnostic tests to confirm certain conditions, tests for some conditions are unreliable, and symptoms of several disorders mimic those of other conditions.

Documenting symptoms in detail and taking drug and family history into account can help pin down the exact health condition, but it's also advisable to watch out for diseases that are easily misdiagnosed.

Here are 5 such conditions you might face trouble diagnosing correctly!

#1 Appendicitis

Typically, symptoms of an inflamed or burst appendix include pain and tenderness around the navel, nausea, and a low-grade fever. This makes appendicitis easily identifiable, but in some cases where the appendix points backward instead of forward, these symptoms present in a different location- in the groin or higher up in the abdomen, making the condition difficult to diagnose.

At times, patients are relieved from the pain when the appendix ruptures. While this creates a potentially life-threatening infection, symptoms can take days or weeks to appear.

#2 Lupus

In this chronic inflammatory disease, the body's immune system attacks normal, healthy tissue. The most distinctive symptom it presents is a butterfly-shaped rash across the nose and cheeks. However, the rash is not pathognomonic and appears in other conditions like pellagra and Bloom syndrome too. It's also possible for lupus patients to not develop this rash, making it hard to diagnose.

Lupus can cause inflammation and swelling, and damage to the skin, joints, blood, heart, lungs, and kidneys. Additionally, this autoimmune disease can mimic several other health issues which makes diagnosis a long and difficult process.

#3 Celiac Disease

This is a long-term autoimmune disorder occurring in individuals with a genetic inability to digest gluten, a composite protein found in grains like wheat, rye, oats, barley, spelt, etc. Over time, gluten damages the lining of the small intestinal walls, making it difficult for the body to absorb important nutrients. This can further lead to anemia, osteoporosis, and infertility, among other issues.

Symptoms of celiac disease include diarrhea and weight loss, itchy skin, joint pain, headaches, and heart burn or acid reflux. Since these symptoms can be attributed to other health issues, celiac disease can go undiagnosed for 6-10 years. Moreover, symptoms don't present themselves in many cases even as the illness keeps destroying the intestinal lining.

#4 Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is a functional gastrointestinal disorder affecting the large intestine or colon. IBS presents a group of symptoms including abdominal pain, cramping, changes in bowel movement pattern, gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.

What makes this disorder difficult to diagnose is the similarity in symptoms with those of other diseases. In addition to this, some medications cause side-effects similar to symptoms of IBS.

It's important to note that conditions like Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, colon/rectal cancer, etc. share the symptoms of IBS. This can cause medical and health care providers to fail to identify symptoms or adequately treat the illness. According to Connecticut hospital negligence lawyers, this is a common mistake on the part of hospital staff that puts patients' lives at risk while also making the hospital liable for negligence.

#5 Rheumatoid Arthritis

Another autoimmune disorder that presents difficulties in diagnosis is rheumatoid arthritis or RA. Unlike osteoarthritis, RA does not manifest due to age or injuries to joints, but occurs when the body's immune system attacks the lining of membranes surrounding the joints. This causes a painful inflammation eventually resulting in bone erosion and joint deformity.

Apart from tender, swollen joints and joint stiffness, fever, fatigue, and weight loss are common symptoms of RA. The disease can also affect skin, eyes, nerve tissue, salivary glands, heart, blood vessels, lungs, and kidneys.

RA is difficult to diagnose in the early stages because signs and symptoms presented are same as those of many other disorders. Also, there is no particular test to confirm the disease.


Delay in diagnosis or misdiagnosis leads to delayed treatment, incorrect treatment, or lack of treatment, which can worsen a patient's condition. Sure, medical care providers try their best to help patients, but even the most skilled doctors can have a tough time diagnosing particular diseases.

So put into practice all that you've learned and go with your gut instinct, but do keep an eye out for these hard-to-diagnose diseases!

(Image Credit)

Article last time updated on 20.09.2017.

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