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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Even doctors are prone to mis-diagnose

Here's an interesting post from Men's Health at, "5 most common misdiagnoses for men." Several of us who are diagnosed with allergies, bronchitis and sinus headaches may actually have something else wrong with us.

The post notes that some men go to their doctors complaining of allergy-like symptoms of runny nose, watery eyes, and that downright miserable feeling and be diagnosed with allergies. When in actuality what they have is vasomotor rhinitis.

The article states it's rare to develop allergies in your 20s and 30s unless you change jobs or move to a new location. "Instead, your symptoms may be the result of vasomotor rhinitis, a condition triggered by non-allergen irritants, such as perfume, smog, and cigarette smoke, that inflame your nasal mucous membranes, says Patricia Wheeler, M.D., an associate professor of family medicine at the University of Louisville. The allergy medicines you're prescribed won't provide relief."

While sinus headaches are often diagnosed when men come in complaining of facial pressure, they are diagnosed with sinus headache, yet sinus headache medicine doesn't work. What they really have is a migraine headache, which is treated a completely different way.

Bronchitis is often the diagnosis when men come in because they are "hacking up" a bad cold. Yet the culprit may be something "hidden," such as asthma.

There's actually quite a few times as I'm digging through charts that I suspect a diagnosis of "bronchitis" is actually asthma. Of course we know asthma is treated quite different than bronchitis, and asthma can be prevented if treated daily with asthma controller medicines.

Then again, quite often I see patient's diagnosed with pneumonia when there is no indication for this diagnosis: no pneumonia on x-ray, no elevated white blood count, etc. Yet this misdiagnosis is probably due to reimbursement criteria more so than ignorance.

So as you're perusing through charts, or dealing with your own health, just be aware that your doctor is, after all, only human. And Lord knows all humans are prone to error.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting about the 'men with sinus headaches'.
My other half gets sinus headaches-he calls them 'there's pressure building up in my sinuses'!
I'd tried him on regular headache and sinus headache meds over a few days, but he still had the pain. So in the end I just gave him half a dose of sumatriptan (I have really bad migraines!) and low and behold it worked.
OK so no deal-I need those tablets! I guess it proves your theory that occasionally there is something else wrong. I don't believe he had a migraine-it just happened to to be the right drug to shrink the right diluted blood vessels, which obviously weren't his sinuses!