Why It Is Difficult to Diagnose Some Disorders


A doctor can usually tell what disorder his or her patient is struggling with – all it takes is a few tests. However, in some cases, the diagnosis is not obvious, and despite consulting a few professionals, the patient still doesn’t know what is going on with their body. While it is not the most optimistic version of events, it happens more often than you might think.

Take as an example EDS. A person suffering from it needs to go under EDS treatment. However, patients suffering from it often get the wrong diagnosis. As experts from the Speroclinic say, ‘This is because EDS can resemble other connective tissue disorders, and there is so much variance when it comes to symptoms. Every patient’s experience with EDS is different – there is no general rule for how this condition may present itself.’

However, this is just one of the reasons why it might be difficult to diagnose some disorders. If you want to find out more about the others, you have to keep reading.

Your Disease Is Rare

As we already mentioned, sometimes it might take a few visits to different doctors before one of them finally discovers what the problem is. However, some diseases are so rare that the only way to find out about them is to get genetic testing done by a geneticist.

The right diagnosis can be even more challenging when there are no reported cases of what you are experiencing. Matching all of the symptoms that you might have with all of the diseases out there is a bigger challenge than you might imagine.

Your Symptoms Are Not Specific

Symptoms like anemia, pain, weakness, or coughing are called ‘nonspecific,’ as there are many diseases that can cause them. When doctors are in training, they are taught that they should look for more common causes first. This is why, during the first examination, they might not be taking into consideration some rare health conditions.

In the medical world, there is a saying – ‘When you hear hoofbeats, think of horses, not zebras.’ The saying was introduced by Theodore Woodward, who was a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, to his interns. Horses are very common in Maryland, while zebras are quite rare, which is why when hearing hoofbeats, one can confidently assume that the animal behind the noise is the zebra.

Your Symptoms Are Unusual

You might think that since the symptom you are experiencing is unusual, then it will be easier for the doctor to give a diagnosis. However, that’s not usually the case – it only works when your doctor is familiar with the disease that might cause it. If he isn’t, then you will probably be directed to a specialist.

For some people having an unusual symptom is really though in terms of their mental health, as they might feel as if the doctor doesn’t believe them and does not have any trust in them. If this is your case, then don’t feel pressured into proving that you are actually experiencing this symptom – instead, try looking for a second opinion.

Your Symptoms Are Not The ‘Textbook” Ones

Often doctors are hesitant to diagnose you with a rare disease if your symptoms are not the typical ones, or you are not experiencing all of the symptoms that usually occur with it.

You have to keep in mind though that, oftentimes, people experience only a few symptoms associated with a specific condition. What’s more, some people might experience symptoms that are not listed on a list of symptoms concerning one particular disease.

What To Do When You Have No Diagnosis

Sometimes getting a correct diagnosis is impossible even after visiting the best doctors in the country. You might hear a phrase like ‘of unknown etiology,’ which, if simplified, means that they have no clue what can be the causes. In some cases, you might get two different diagnoses.

Despite not having a diagnosis at the moment, it’s important that you keep visiting your doctor for regular check-ups. This way, your doctor can keep track of any health changes or might come across new information as time goes by. All this can lead to him finding out what your health problem is.

Also, if you have an opportunity to go to a new doctor, who will look at your case with fresh eyes, definitely take it. Maybe he will notice something your regular doctor didn’t.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are many reasons why getting the right diagnosis can be challenging, including unusual symptoms or a rare disease.

What’s important, though, is not giving up, as at one point or another someone will have the answer to your question about the cause of your health problem. For now, the only thing that we can say to you is to Take Care!

About the Author

Medical Disclaimer

The information provided on this website is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. The content on the website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, treatment, or advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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