Difficult Diseases to Diagnose
There are many different diseases in the world, and some are harder for doctors than others. Here is a list of some diseases that are often difficult to correctly diagnose. See also the discussions of over-diagnosed conditions and under-diagnosed conditions.
Infant conditions: Any conditions in an infant are inherently difficult because the infant cannot tell you what is wrong. You have to look at the signs in behavior, appearance, and movement rather than asking what's wrong. For example, a baby with an earache cannot tell you this, but might be rubbing the ears. It is also difficult and unpleasant to get a blood sample from infants meaning that confirmatory blood tests are often omitted or delayed. Urine and feces samples are also more inconvenient to get than in older children.
Mental, emotional and behavioral disorders: The human brain and human behavior are very diverse aspects of human biology. This makes it difficult for doctors to diagnose various type of conditions that affect mental processes, mood, and behavior. In many cases, the patient is not always aware that they are not behaving normally. Diagnosis is also made difficult by the fact that very few of these conditions have any physical tests of blood or urine to confirm it, nor are there any physical symptoms for doctors to look at. Psychological or psychiatric examinations are helpful but not always conclusive.
Digestive disorders: The digestive system has somewhat vague symptoms and ones that patients are often embarrassed about. It is also difficult to look inside the different parts of the digestive tract. Hence, it is difficult to diagnose between the various digestive disorders such as:
- Bacterial or viral infection of the digestive tract such as infectious diarrhea
- Food poisoning
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Crohn's disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Celiac disease (gluten sensitivity)
- Diabetic gastroparesis (stomach nerve neuropathy)
- Diabetic diarrhea (intestine nerve neuropathy)
Disorders with vague symptoms: It is inherently difficult to diagnose conditions that do not have clear symptoms. For example, there is a whole group of disorders that can cause symptoms such as general malaise, fatigue, and other vague neurological symptoms, including:
- multiple sclerosis
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- Lyme disease
- Hypothyroidism such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis
Any type of disease that is rare is often hard to diagnose,
simply because doctors may not be familiar with its details.
For this reason many rare diseases
appear on the list of under-diagnosed conditions.
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