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NEW YORK (CBS 2) – If you’re a man, or a woman who loves one, there’s some important medical information you need to know. It turns out that for men, there are five common misdiagnoses that everyone should be know.
CBS 2’s Dr. Holly Phillips spoke to the experts to find out how you can protect yourself from your doctor making the wrong call.
Eli Viljoen is feeling better just one day after starting his new medication.
“The heartburn is gone, I have no acid reflux whatsoever, and the headaches are gone,” he says.
Three years ago, Viljoen had been diagnosed with allergies and sinus infection. He was constantly switching medications, but he never got better.
“I was wondering, why am I taking these medications, and why are they not working,” Viljoen says. “I felt like I was being misdiagnosed, but how can they not know what’s going on?”
Viljoen was misdiagnosed, but Dr. Stacey Silvers took just minutes to figure out the real problem.
“He just needed simple, conservative management, and he’s doing great,” Dr. Silvers says.
Astonishingly, Viljoen’s misdiagnosis isn’t unusual. Often, a simple runny nose is mistaken for allergies.
“In New York – where there’s tons of car exhaust, cigarette smoke, perfume – it’s not uncommon for the nose to not want to irrigate, and try to flush them out by just running,” Dr. Silvers says.
That’s not the only common misdiagnosis, however. Bronchitis is often mistaken for asthma, while sinus headaches are often diagnosed when they could be migraines.
Researchers at the American Headache Institute found that 86 percent of patients who thought they had sinus headaches actually had migraines, and making the right diagnosis is crucial because the medications that work for one type of headache don’t work for the other.
Dr. Silvers says sometimes both patients and doctors share the blame.
“They tell the doctor the diagnosis, and a lot of times the doctor will assume that is what they have,” Dr. Silvers says.
Other common misdiagnoses include iliotibial band friction syndrome, which is often mistaken for a torn meniscus. Another is particularly scary: an inflamed lymph node, or stomach virus, are often mistaken for appendicitis. In fact, 16 percent of appendectomies are considered unnecessary.
Viljoen, for one, says he could not be happier to be on the right path – with the correct diagnosis in hand.
“It’s really, really a relief for me,” he said.
Experts also say that to cut down on misdiagnoses, you should find a doctor you’re comfortable with, and one who takes the time to do a thorough examination.