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The Washington Independent

The Importance of a Professional Diagnosis Rather than Online Answers

The Importance of a Professional Diagnosis Rather than Online Answers

We have all done it at times. We start to feel unwell and look for answers to our symptoms online. That said, the practice of self-diagnosis should be avoided at all costs.

Paula M. Graham
Health
Oct 26, 2021

Table of Contents

We have all done it at times. We start to feel unwell and look for answers to our symptoms online. That said, the practice of self-diagnosis should be avoided at all costs.  

There are many reasons to avoid self-diagnosis for symptoms online, and those have been detailed in a previous article. But, in general, searching for signs online and solutions to those symptoms can be very misleading, add anxiety, and may be entirely wrong in the prognosis. 

Problems associated with online self-diagnosis may include: 

  • Diagnosing the wrong symptoms
  • Misleading information
  • Adding to the anxiety of your illness
  • Incorrect advice to address symptoms

The problem with googling your health symptoms online is that you may be getting unreliable or unrelated medical advice that may also be overlooking more severe health issues. By self-diagnosing online, you may convince yourself of your symptoms and avoid professional expert opinions that may have severe health impacts. 

If you feel sick, it’s best practice to consult your healthcare provider or an urgent care center to help diagnose your problem accurately this holiday season. Even with instances of a minor ailment, having a professional examination is critical to prevent additional health issues. 

That said, there are some examples of self-diagnosis to prepare you on how to best communicate with your Primary Care Physician. 

For example, if you think you may be pregnant, an at-home test can give you an initial reading, though there are both false positives and false negatives, and only your OB-GYN can answer you for sure. 

Another self-diagnosis to prepare you for more accurate follow-ups is when you feel cold or flu symptoms coming on. Again, taking an at-home COVID test will give you a head’s up on whether you should take an antigen test for more accurate results. 

But, again, these at-home tests may provide a false-positive or false-negative, so it’s best to get a test administered at a local testing site. 

Especially in older patients, improper or misdiagnosis symptoms of serious illness can often be masked by more common signs of lesser diseases. Using an in-home kit to check for COVID, for example, is just a primer for a professional test.

Seven Examples Of Severe Disease That Mimic Common Illnesses

For many Americans, seven commonly misdiagnosed diseases need professional observation and examination to determine if the individual has the disease or not. 

Lupus

Lupus is a rare disorder that is an inflammation in the body. It is a chronic condition meaning that it will continue and is manageable but not treatable. Lupus symptoms include fatigue, joint pain, and rashes, which may cause lung, heart, and liver damage and are discovered through specific blood work analysis. 

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that causes loss of motor control. It may simulate Alzheimer’s, stroke symptoms, or traumatic head injury and is diagnosed through extensive clinical observation. 

Fibromyalgia

This disorder is a chronic, arthritic-like disease that has constant pain associated with it. It mimics Rheumatoid Arthritis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and has anxiety, depression, and lasting pain as symptoms.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is caused by a tick bite and can mimic respiratory diseases and Chronic Fatigue, depression, the flu, and mononucleosis.  It is diagnosed through a two-step antibody test to be followed by a blood-clotting test. 

Multiple Sclerosis

A progressive auto-immune disorder, MS attacks the central nervous system. Some symptoms are spasms, lack of motor control, degenerative motor skills. The disease mimics Lupus, viral infections, Alzheimer’s, and others.

Celiac Disease

Another auto-immune system disease, Celiac Disease, is brought by an intolerance to gluten, the protein that comes from wheat and grains. Symptoms may include vomiting, abdominal pain, GI tract issues. Celiac Disease mimics Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and Cystic Fibrosis. 

Chronic Fatigue

Chronic Fatigue is a complex disease that mimics many others and has an unknown origin. Symptoms include loss of memory, inability to focus or concentrate, sore throats, painful lymph nodes, among others. In addition, the disease mimics sinus problems, hepatitis, fibromyalgia, lupus, and other disorders.

As you can see, common symptoms between minor illness and severe disease can be easily misunderstood, and googling symptoms may lead to a false sense of understanding. Therefore, it’s crucial to get a professional diagnosis rather than what you find online.

Paula M. Graham | Paula is a writer and editor who works as a freelancer. She covers subjects such as banking, insurance, and digital marketing in his writing. Paula is a bookworm who also enjoys podcasts and freshly made coffee.

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