5 Serious Health Conditions Your Doctor May Get Wrong

When you face an onslaught of medical symptoms that arise mysteriously out of the blue, you hope that your doctor would be able to shed some light on the matter. Unfortunately, doctors can often have just as much trouble identifying troubling signs like stomach problems, rashes, fevers and body aches. A recent study, in fact, found that diagnostic errors may affect as many as 12 million American adults, and that half of those errors are potentially harmful.1

The reason?


Many symptoms are often so common to multiple ailments and diseases, it can be tough for doctors to pin down the exact problem. Additionally, symptoms may vary from person to person since each person’s body responds differently to different health threats. Of course, one may argue that the very purpose of diagnostic tests is to be able to accurately detect what the problem is, but because they’re so expensive, most of us don’t bother following through with them. And even if we did, they still don’t answer our anxious questions in black and white.

For the benefit of your information, here are 5 such tricky health conditions that can easily be misdiagnosed.


1. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic condition of the large intestine. The symptoms that are commonly associated with IBS are cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and/or constipation.


IBS is one of those conditions in which there are no real tests that can prove their existence. Instead, these require a “diagnosis of elimination” where the doctors rule out other possible causes of the symptoms. According to medics, IBS can be diagnosed successfully only if the patient reports symptoms for at least six months before his first formal evaluation and if he experiences discomfort for at least three days in a month during the last three months before being diagnosed with the condition.2

2. Fibromyalgia

The diagnosis of fibromyalgia can hugely vary depending on what kind of doctor one chooses to consult.


Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that causes symptoms like pain and tenderness all throughout the body. Because this disorder is also characterized by hurting muscles, feelings of anxiety and tiredness, and the inability to sleep, many practitioners will first think it’s arthritis or chronic fatigue syndrome. Because there are no lab tests to prove the existence of this condition, diagnosing this problem becomes even more difficult. Diagnosis of fibromyalgia is also hugely dependent on what kind of doctor you choose to see. For instance, if you go to a gastroenterologist, you may be told you have irritable bowel syndrome.

3. Heart Attack

Heart attacks are commonly misdiagnosed as heartburn, gastritis, gallstones or nervousness


With seemingly obvious symptoms like a tight painful feeling in the chest area, cold sweats, and the inability to breathe, you may think that diagnosing a heart attack is fairly easy. However, you’d be surprised to know that many people don’t go through these symptoms at all. Studies have shown that women don’t often feel chest pain during a heart attack. Men, however, are more likely to experience this symptom, which is why they end up receiving quicker care for a possible heart attack than women.3 When the patients don’t report all the signs, doctors can often misdiagnose heart attacks as gastritis, gallstones or even nervousness instead, while older people often end up believing that they are experiencing heartburn instead.

4. Celiac Disease

Because the symptoms vary from person to person, celiac disease is often mistaken for IBS.


Celiac disease patients are very likely to have heard that they have all other problems but the ability to digest gluten. This is because the symptoms of celiac disease like abdominal pain, headaches, itchy skin, joint pain, and vomiting show up different for different patients. In some cases, the symptoms may not be visible at all. A loss of weight, which is another common symptom, shows up in only half of the celiac patients, while the condition is often confused with irritable bowel syndrome in many others. Celiac disease can also cause heartburn and acid reflux, which can be blamed on many other conditions. For this reason, it may take up to a decade for celiac disease to be diagnosed correctly.

The good news? Celiac disease can be confirmed by a blood test, no matter what the symptoms are, while an endoscopy can help determine the damages caused to the small intestine if any.


5. Cancer

Cancer is often wrongly diagnosed because of lack of medical information or evaluation time.

Cancer accounts for nearly one of every four deaths in the U.S.4 Yet, it ends up being misdiagnosed in almost 28 percent of the cases, and up to 44 percent for certain specific types of cancer such as melanoma (a type of skin cancer), breast cancer, gynecological cancer, colorectal cancer, and hematological cancer. There could be multiple reasons for misdiagnosing cancer, such as incomplete medical history information, missing or fragmented information, or inadequate time for patient evaluation.