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You can avoid becoming a mystery diagnosis

A diagnosis should be straightforward, right? You give the doctor your symptoms, and you expect them to add up to a condition that the medical community recognizes. That's not always how it works out, though, and the process can be much more difficult.

When you present symptoms to a doctor, that doctor has to start considering the possibilities. For instance, a stuffy nose could be as simple as allergies, or it could be a sign of a serious sinus infection or a tumor in the nasal cavity. There are many possibilities with each symptom, making it important for patients to be clear and persistent; no symptom is too small to mention.

Sometimes, conditions are rare. That can make them hard to diagnose, and there is little that can be done to fault a doctor, especially one who is not a specialist. However, there are some things you can do to make sure you don't become a mystery patient. First, take your time and get your records straight. Collect them all and make sure you have them in your possession and at your primary care doctor's office.

Be persistent, especially if you don't feel your diagnosis is correct. Explain your fears and why you think the diagnosis is wrong. Your doctor may listen; if he or she doesn't, it's okay to look for a second opinion. When you do, make sure you don't go alone. Having someone else there can both provide confirmation to your story and help you remember everything the doctor tells you.

If, after all the persistence and work you put in, you still suffer as a result of a misdiagnosis, you may be in a position where you've been treated negligently. Your case is unique, and you should not be dismissed by a doctor or rushed through a treatment that you don't feel is working.

Source: The Journal, "Five simple steps to avoid becoming a medical mystery," Sandra G. Boodman, Dec. 04, 2016

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