Sometimes we try to be a doctor for ourselves and confuse one disease for another. But in reality, 20% of serious medical conditions are misdiagnosed. Our health should not be taken lightly — it’s one of the most important things in life, so let’s explore some of the diseases that can get overlooked or mistaken for something else.
We at Bright Side wish everyone good health and have prepared a common list of conditions that can be misdiagnosed.
1. Heart attack vs panic attack
Sometimes it’s very difficult to distinguish a heart attack from a panic attack because, at first glance, their symptoms have a lot in common. A sharp stabbing pain often indicates a heart attack. In many cases, this pain is present only in the left arm.
Here are some of the differences between a heart attack and a panic attack:
- People experiencing a heart attack suffer from rapid breathing and they don’t panic. But they can feel very scared. Before that, they might feel a headache and be shaking. In cases of panic attacks, a person has a feeling of loss of control over their nerves and over their mind.
- If you have panic attacks, your body is tense, so you very well may suffer from muscle pain.
2. Meningitis vs the common cold
Meningitis is the inflammation of the soft membranes around the brain and spinal cord. It is very dangerous and can cause brain damage. That’s why it’s very important to get an early, correct diagnosis. Common symptoms such as a fever, cold hands, muscle pain, headaches, and tiredness can mislead you.
This disease is often confused with the common cold because the symptoms are so similar. Watch out for:
- a stiff neck
- spots and rashes on the skin
- sensitivity to bright light
3. Tuberculosis vs the common cold
Tuberculosis is still one of the most common deadly diseases in the world. With this disease, bacteria usually attack the lungs, but they can also damage other parts of the body. Tuberculosis spreads through the air when a person coughs, sneezes, or talks. But the temperature in a person with tuberculosis doesn’t rise too high at 99.5°F (37-37.5°C) and rises mainly in the evening.
Symptoms like fatigue, fever, night sweats, and chills may make you think that you have a common cold. But there are specific symptoms to watch out for that tell you it’s not just a cold, like:
- coughing that lasts 3 or more weeks
- coughing with blood
- chest pain or pain while breathing or coughing
- unintentional weight loss
4. Breast cancer vs mastitis
Almost half of the cancer patients are diagnosed too late. About a quarter of patients with cancer found out about their disease once it moved into the advanced stage. And if some symptoms repeat again and again during a long period of time, it may not just be from low immunity. Try to be in tune with your body and pay attention to how you feel.
Symptoms of cancer are very similar to signs of other diseases. For example, inflammatory breast cancer is easily confused with mastitis, and a malignant tumor of the large intestine has similar symptoms to ulcerative colitis or irritable bowel syndrome. You may have the same symptoms as mastitis with skin irritation, redness, pain, and breast warmness.
Please pay attention to the more specific signs of cancer like:
- itchy breasts
- lumps or nodes felt on or inside of the breast
- breast lumps
- nipple reactions
Please check your breasts regularly yourself.
5. Appendicitis vs cysts on the right ovary
Both conditions are dangerous and need a proper diagnosis. Both can cause strong and sudden pain on the right side of the lower abdomen that can really nag and ache. It’s better not to check the Internet for symptom explanations but instead, immediately call your doctor or an ambulance.
There are some common symptoms like vomiting and running a fever. But there are some signs that can define the conditions. In the case of cysts, you may have a disorder of the menstrual cycle. But in cases of appendicitis you may have:
- a hard, tight belly
- the inability to pass gas
6. Lupus vs other diseases
You can have lupus all your life and not even know about it because the symptoms are so varied — it may often seem like you just have a low immune system that is causing you to catch all kinds of diseases. Doctors take years to diagnose this dangerous disease since you simply appear to be sick with many different small diseases.
The main thing that you should know is that if you have joint and muscle pain and fevers appear often from nowhere, it’s better to ask the doctor to check you more thoroughly. This autoimmune disease can affect any part of the body including internal organs. In some cases, lupus can cause impaired function of the cardiovascular and digestive systems.
Please pay attention to the following signs of lupus:
- achy joints (arthralgia)
- a fever that pops up for no reason
- pain in the chest when breathing deeply (pleurisy)
- hair loss
Have you ever been misdiagnosed? Please tell us your stories in the comment section below!
Illustrated by Oleg Guta for Bright Side