Whenever we feel like something is wrong with our bodies, we often turn to our doctors for help. For the most part, our experience may be pleasant. We often to go the clinic and come out knowing what’s wrong. However, there are times when doctors just can’t seem to figure out what is happening with our bodies.
Why Doctors Are Sometimes Unable to Diagnose You
You will be surprised by how often doctors can’t come up with a diagnosis. It is not because they are not competent enough. Instead, it is because there are still so many diseases that need more research and explanation. Even in the advent of science and technology, there are still so many diseases and conditions to be discovered.
Moreover, doctors have criteria for diagnosing patients. For common diseases, doctors can typically find out what’s wrong with you in a matter of minutes. However, for other diseases, it might take a while.
Oftentimes, they come up with differential diagnoses first. This is a list of possible diseases and conditions that you could have. Based on laboratory and imaging results, as well as a physical exam, they have to narrow it down to a single diagnosis. In coming up with differential diagnoses, your doctor considers your age, sex, lifestyle, and current health. More or less, he or she knows the common diseases based on these factors. Thus, if your current condition is not common in your particular age group or lifestyle, he or may not have it on the list at first.
As patients, we want to put a label on our current condition. However, sometimes that is not possible.
Things You Can Do
When you are not being enlightened about your existing condition, you may want to take matters into your own hands. You can and it is your right to do so. Here are some concrete things you can do if your doctors are unable to diagnose you.
Wait It Out.
How many consults have you had with your doctor? Your doctor may be unable to give a final diagnosis until he or she has all the necessary lab and imaging results. If your symptoms aren’t too serious, it might help to wait it out a bit.
Acknowledge That Your Condition May Be Due to Stress or Anxiety.
Sometimes your doctor will tell you that your condition is due to stress or anxiety. This could be anything from headaches, chronic muscle pain, etc. You might think that this isn’t the case, making you go look for other possible reasons you are feeling these symptoms. However, your doctor is oftentimes right. Stress and anxiety can manifest in your body like a real illness. There is plenty of research that indicates this.
Get a Second Opinion.
It doesn’t help to reach out to another doctor for a second opinion. While doctors all underwent the same medical training, their experience when it comes to diseases still differ. For instance, a surgeon would have seen more cases of tumors as opposed to an internist. However, a family medicine doctor may be more skilled in diagnosing patients through physical exams and interviews. A lot of factors will play in shaping your doctor’s diagnostic skills.
You can even get a third opinion. Just keep in mind that sometimes you will end up even more confused about your own condition the more doctors you consult with. Getting a 2nd opinion doesn’t guarantee you will get diagnosed. It may take three, four, five, or even more doctors.
If you feel like your doctor is dismissing your symptoms and saying it is all in your head, you are most likely better off asking the help of another doctor. Find a medical practice and a doctor that’s competent and reliable.
Become a Good Storyteller.
If you don’t already know, doctors heavily rely on what you have to say to come up with the diagnosis. If you are skipping some details, your doctor may have a hard time arriving at the final diagnosis. When consulting with a doctor, make sure to narrate the story of your condition clearly. If possible, you can begin from when the first symptom started. Don’t leave out details – even those you think might not be helpful.
You can keep a journal of your condition if you like. This will help you remember what your symptoms were at a particular time of the day. Also jot down the food that you eat, as well as the medications you took. All of these may be valuable in your doctor’s diagnosis.
Oftentimes, we may be leaving out some details that may be key in coming up with the correct diagnosis. If you are worried about confidentiality, keep in mind that your doctor is following a law that forbids him or her to disclose anything you say during the consultation. Don’t hold back when
Research Your Family’s Medical History.
Many diseases are genetically encoded. Thus, the disease you may have right now may have also inflicted your family members. Ask your parents about the conditions they had when they were your age. If possible, reach out to more distant relatives to figure out if any of them had similar symptoms.
Communicate With Your Doctor Effectively.
If you’re worried that you are still clueless as to what your condition is, you should communicate this with your doctor. This helps him or her know what you’re feeling and where you’re at. Moreover, this will improve your relationship with your doctor and eventually improve your communication skills. Perhaps, once you are at ease with your doctor, you will feel freer to talk about things you may have forgotten or skipped talking about during your first consultation.
We often go to our doctors to seek help when something is wrong with our physical and mental well-being. However, sometimes, doctors can’t figure out exactly what is going on. In this situation, there are things you can do to help elucidate your illness or condition.