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5 Serious Health Disorders That Can Be Mistaken For Common Medical Conditions

5 Serious Health Disorders That Can Be Mistaken For Common Medical Conditions

Because the symptoms are similar to others, you might dismiss these to be symptoms that aren't serious but might be something severe.

Good physical health is something that your overall wellbeing and happiness are so dependent on. The moment you notice that something is wrong with your body, it can snowball into something extremely serious and you want to get it under control before it becomes life-threatening. That's why getting the right diagnosis at the right time is so crucial. But what can make matters worse is when you think you're developing one disease when it's some other medical condition altogether. Sometimes, even doctors may find it hard to pinpoint what's going on at the very first go.

"A lot of symptoms are nonspecific and variable, depending on the person," said Dr. David Fleming, president of the American College of Physicians and a professor of medicine at the University of Missouri, according to CNN. "On top of that, many diagnostic tests are expensive and aren't done routinely, and even then they don't always give us a black and white answer."

1. Meningitis or the flu?

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A lot of times, people who have the flu or cold might not realize that they have something more serious like Meningitis. What happens when you develop meningitis is that your meninges (the outer covering that protects your brain and spinal cord) become inflamed. It is during the flu season that the cases of meningitis increase because of bacteria like Haemophilus influenza type B that may be present in your nose and throat, according to UCR Health (University of California, Riverside, Health). When you catch a cold and start recovering from it, the bacteria can spread to your brain and lead to meningitis, especially if you have a weak immune system.

Because it usually comes with a fever, people mistake it for the flu or cold. But apart from the fever, what you need to watch out for in the case of meningitis is a severe headache, stiffness and/or pain in your neck, sensitivity to light, pain in your joints and muscles, and issues with sleep, according to Meningitis Research Foundation.

2. Endometriosis or an ovarian cyst?

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Endometriosis is commonly mistaken for other medical issues in women like ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, and even irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 

When ovarian cysts develop in or on your ovary, it forms sacs that are filled with fluid and this can cause pelvic pain. In the case of pelvic inflammatory disease, your reproductive organs may be infected, and it can lead to pain in your pelvis and lower abdomen. When it comes to endometriosis, the symptoms also include pelvic pain, which is why it is mistaken for other issues. What you should look out for is pain during periods and intercourse, excessive bleeding, inability to get pregnant, and experiencing pain during urination and bowel movements.

3. Fibromyalgia or arthritis?

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When people have fibromyalgia, their pain sensations feel heightened, and this occurs along with fatigue, moodiness, and issues with sleep and memory. Because it has "medically unexplained symptoms" it is often diagnosed as something else.

"Many people tend to think that fibromyalgia is an actual form of arthritis, but that is not the case," said Michael H. Lowenstein, Ph.D., medical director at the Waismann Method Opioid Treatment Center in southern California, according to Reader's Digest. "While it is characterized by pain, FM does not cause tissue inflammation nor does it physically damage the body’s muscles and joints like arthritis is known to do."

In addition to this, arthritis usually affects your joints while fibromyalgia can cause widespread pain all over your body. It is also possible that fibromyalgia is confused with other conditions as well such as chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, lupus, and hypothyroidism.

4. Breast cancer or mastitis?

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Sometimes, it is possible that even benign conditions that affect that breasts that actually show similar symptoms to breast cancer, according to Komen.org

There is one particular type of breast cancer that is commonly mistaken for mastitis, and that is inflammatory breast cancer. Some of the symptoms that are similar for both conditions are itching, tenderness and warmth of the breast, redness in the area. Mastitis generally appears in women who breastfeed or are pregnant, and generally, the symptoms fade away with antibiotics. However, inflammatory breast cancer treatment is not as simple. Some of the other symptoms of this breast cancer include an increase in breast size (due to swelling or the thickening of the skin), the nipple reverting inwards, and swollen lymph nodes that start appearing in your armpit or the collarbone area.

5. Tuberculosis or fever?

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Similar to how you would catch a fever or cold, you can catch tuberculosis also when you have been exposed to it. When you are around a person with tuberculosis, the disease could pass on to you when they sneeze, talk, or cough. Because fever and coughing up mucus are symptoms of tuberculosis, people tend to dismiss it as a regular fever and not think that it can be something more serious.

If you suspect that you have tuberculosis, apart from fever, you will have to watch out for other symptoms like night sweats, coughing up blood/mucus, losing your appetite and your weight, feeling fatigued, and a cough that has prolonged for at least 3 weeks, according to MedlinePlus.

References:
https://edition.cnn.com/2014/08/26/health/diseases-doctors-get-wrong/index.html
https://www.meningitis.org/meningitis/check-symptoms
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/meningitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20350508
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ovarian-cysts/symptoms-causes/syc-20353405
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pelvic-inflammatory-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20352594
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354780
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354780
https://www.rd.com/health/conditions/conditions-similar-fibromyalgia/
https://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/BenignConditions.html
https://medlineplus.gov/tuberculosis.html

Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.