November 30, 2016

The darker side of misdiagnosis

400-06200435This month in Health Matters, we bring our attention to depression and hypothyroidism. Although they are two separate diseases, depression can be a symptom of hypothyroidism, which is a deficiency in the levels of hormones created by your thyroid gland. The medications prescribed to increase low thyroid levels can often alleviate the many symptoms of hypothyroidism, including depression.

Since the indicators of hypothyroidism and depression are similar, doctors sometimes overlook the possibility that a person who is depressed may have low thyroid levels as well.

There are many symptoms linked to hypothyroidism and depression, including fatigue, sluggishness, lack of mental focus and sleeping too much. The huge list of other hypothyroidism signals also includes:

  • Slower heart rate
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Joint or muscle pain or cramps
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Dryness or yellowing of the skin
  • Brittle or thick nails
  • Swelling in front of the neck
  • Hair thinning or loss

Because depression is among the more common symptoms of hypothyroidism, it’s imperative that you have an open dialogue with your physician about both your physical and mental feelings. Once members have a diagnosis, a second opinion or case analysis can provide the facts you need to make informed, prudent decisions about your treatment.

400-06200435This month in Health Matters, we bring our attention to depression and hypothyroidism. Although they are two separate diseases, depression can be a symptom of hypothyroidism, which is a deficiency in the levels of hormones created by your thyroid gland. The medications prescribed to increase low thyroid levels can often alleviate the many symptoms of hypothyroidism, including depression.

Since the indicators of hypothyroidism and depression are similar, doctors sometimes overlook the possibility that a person who is depressed may have low thyroid levels as well.

There are many symptoms linked to hypothyroidism and depression, including fatigue, sluggishness, lack of mental focus and sleeping too much. The huge list of other hypothyroidism signals also includes:

  • Slower heart rate
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Joint or muscle pain or cramps
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Dryness or yellowing of the skin
  • Brittle or thick nails
  • Swelling in front of the neck
  • Hair thinning or loss

Because depression is among the more common symptoms of hypothyroidism, it’s imperative that you have an open dialogue with your physician about both your physical and mental feelings. Once members have a diagnosis, a second opinion or case analysis can provide the facts you need to make informed, prudent decisions about your treatment.

October 28, 2016

Looking beyond the six-letter word

Focus on cancer and the many treatments.

This month we will focus on the dreaded disease, cancer. There are nearly as many treatments for cancer as there are types of cancer, making it one of the most complex and life-changing diagnoses possible.

Cancer Treatment - Printed Diagnosis on Green Background.

Cancer can begin in the lungs, the breasts, the colon or even in the bloodstream. It can stagnate in certain areas of the body or spread through the body, and the spreading can happen slowly or very rapidly. While cancers are alike in some ways, they can differ significantly in many others—including how they grow and spread.

Oncology research has advanced to the point that more people than ever before lead full lives after cancer treatment, but there is still not a definitive cure for cancer, and the multitude of treatment options further complicates managing the disease. In addition, cancer has become so common that doctors are often quick to diagnose it and treat the disease as if it is invasive or fast moving— which is not always the case.

It’s important to confirm your cancer is being treated appropriately as treatments vary widely, and can include traditional therapies (such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy), newer forms of treatment (clinical trials) and complementary or alternative therapies.

Cancer can be difficult to diagnose, and misdiagnosis is increasingly common. With treatments that include surgery and radiation therapy, the need for certainty in your diagnosis is imperative before you and your doctor can even determine an appropriate treatment method.

Focus on cancer and the many treatments.

This month we will focus on the dreaded disease, cancer. There are nearly as many treatments for cancer as there are types of cancer, making it one of the most complex and life-changing diagnoses possible.

Cancer Treatment - Printed Diagnosis on Green Background.

Cancer can begin in the lungs, the breasts, the colon or even in the bloodstream. It can stagnate in certain areas of the body or spread through the body, and the spreading can happen slowly or very rapidly. While cancers are alike in some ways, they can differ significantly in many others—including how they grow and spread.

Oncology research has advanced to the point that more people than ever before lead full lives after cancer treatment, but there is still not a definitive cure for cancer, and the multitude of treatment options further complicates managing the disease. In addition, cancer has become so common that doctors are often quick to diagnose it and treat the disease as if it is invasive or fast moving— which is not always the case.

It’s important to confirm your cancer is being treated appropriately as treatments vary widely, and can include traditional therapies (such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy), newer forms of treatment (clinical trials) and complementary or alternative therapies.

Cancer can be difficult to diagnose, and misdiagnosis is increasingly common. With treatments that include surgery and radiation therapy, the need for certainty in your diagnosis is imperative before you and your doctor can even determine an appropriate treatment method.

September 20, 2016

Sometimes when you catch a bug, you need to look for the bite

400-06068735

Focus on Lyme disease and flu-like symptoms

In continuation of our Health Matters series, we’d like to direct our focus on Lyme disease and the ways you can educate yourself to reduce the chances of misdiagnosis of Lyme disease the future.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection primarily transmitted by deer ticks that affects more than 300,000 North Americans per year. However, because diagnosing Lyme disease can be difficult, many people who actually have Lyme disease may be misdiagnosed with other conditions, and many experts believe the actual number of cases may be much higher.

Lyme disease affects people of all ages. The Centers for Disease Control notes that it is most common in children, older adults, and others such as first responders and forest rangers who spend time in outdoor activities and have higher exposure to ticks.

The symptoms of early Lyme disease resemble those of the flu, including:

  • fever
  • chills and sweats
  • muscle aches and fatigue
  • nausea
  • joint pain

In addition, one of the most common indicators of early Lyme disease is a bulls-eye rash at the site of the tick bite. However, this telltale symptom is often faint or hidden on a remote part of the body, while some people don’t get the rash at all.

As with these early indicators, other Lyme disease symptoms (such as cognitive impairment, poor sleep, mood problems, and neurological issues) also occur in other diseases, making the symptoms of Lyme disease significantly overlap those of a host of other conditions, including:

  • fibromyalgia
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease (also called ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Because misdiagnosis of Lyme disease is particularly common, the need for a comprehensive approach to your care becomes even greater. Today’s complex health care landscape requires that we all become advocates for our own health and welfare. If you have flu-like symptoms and other circumstances that could indicate the prospect of Lyme disease, you should be skeptical about any diagnosis and open to the value of a second opinion.

 

400-06068735

Focus on Lyme disease and flu-like symptoms

In continuation of our Health Matters series, we’d like to direct our focus on Lyme disease and the ways you can educate yourself to reduce the chances of misdiagnosis of Lyme disease the future.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection primarily transmitted by deer ticks that affects more than 300,000 North Americans per year. However, because diagnosing Lyme disease can be difficult, many people who actually have Lyme disease may be misdiagnosed with other conditions, and many experts believe the actual number of cases may be much higher.

Lyme disease affects people of all ages. The Centers for Disease Control notes that it is most common in children, older adults, and others such as first responders and forest rangers who spend time in outdoor activities and have higher exposure to ticks.

The symptoms of early Lyme disease resemble those of the flu, including:

  • fever
  • chills and sweats
  • muscle aches and fatigue
  • nausea
  • joint pain

In addition, one of the most common indicators of early Lyme disease is a bulls-eye rash at the site of the tick bite. However, this telltale symptom is often faint or hidden on a remote part of the body, while some people don’t get the rash at all.

As with these early indicators, other Lyme disease symptoms (such as cognitive impairment, poor sleep, mood problems, and neurological issues) also occur in other diseases, making the symptoms of Lyme disease significantly overlap those of a host of other conditions, including:

  • fibromyalgia
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease (also called ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Because misdiagnosis of Lyme disease is particularly common, the need for a comprehensive approach to your care becomes even greater. Today’s complex health care landscape requires that we all become advocates for our own health and welfare. If you have flu-like symptoms and other circumstances that could indicate the prospect of Lyme disease, you should be skeptical about any diagnosis and open to the value of a second opinion.

 

August 22, 2016

HEALTH MATTERS SERIES: Lupus

400-08109410

Best Doctors is a company that provides individuals with access to the best medical minds around the globe. To contribute to this mission, we’ve started a Health Matters series which will dive into relevant health topics on a monthly basis. By curating information from trusted sources, we hope to provide individuals with the confidence they need to tackle any health issue they face.

Our focus this month is lupus. Lupus is a chronic and incurable autoimmune disease that occurs when our tissues attack our own immune systems. Lupus can affect many parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain. The condition is extremely complicated and unpredictable, making it one of the most easily misdiagnosed medical conditions.

The symptoms of lupus resemble those of other more common conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, hepatitis C, influenza, and many others. Some of the most common lupus symptoms are:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
  • Fever and muscle pain
  • Hair loss and skin rashes

Another hallmark of lupus is that the symptoms tend to be sporadic, meaning that they sometimes can “flare up” and other times are in remission, further confusing the prospect for a proper and accurate diagnosis. There is no single test to diagnose lupus and it sometimes takes months or even years for a diagnosis of lupus.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, from the time they first notice their lupus symptoms, it takes nearly six years for individuals with lupus to be diagnosed. 63 percent of people with lupus report being incorrectly diagnosed. Of those in the group reporting misdiagnosis, more than half reported seeing four or more different providers before their accurate diagnosis!

In addition to its complex and confusing symptoms, lupus can have big effects on your wallet. An October 2008 study found that the average annual direct health care cost of individuals with lupus was $12,643. The same study states the mean annual productivity costs (lost hours of productive work) for participants of employment age was $8,659.

The similarities of lupus symptoms to those of other diseases and the lack of testing protocols makes this inflammatory disease one of the most obvious candidates for the Best Doctors service. It’s important to take note of the symptoms you are experiencing. Having these in mind as you visit your physician will help you find the correct diagnosis. It goes without saying that second opinions are never a bad idea for health issues that are known to be so difficult to diagnose.

400-08109410

Best Doctors is a company that provides individuals with access to the best medical minds around the globe. To contribute to this mission, we’ve started a Health Matters series which will dive into relevant health topics on a monthly basis. By curating information from trusted sources, we hope to provide individuals with the confidence they need to tackle any health issue they face.

Our focus this month is lupus. Lupus is a chronic and incurable autoimmune disease that occurs when our tissues attack our own immune systems. Lupus can affect many parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain. The condition is extremely complicated and unpredictable, making it one of the most easily misdiagnosed medical conditions.

The symptoms of lupus resemble those of other more common conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, hepatitis C, influenza, and many others. Some of the most common lupus symptoms are:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
  • Fever and muscle pain
  • Hair loss and skin rashes

Another hallmark of lupus is that the symptoms tend to be sporadic, meaning that they sometimes can “flare up” and other times are in remission, further confusing the prospect for a proper and accurate diagnosis. There is no single test to diagnose lupus and it sometimes takes months or even years for a diagnosis of lupus.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, from the time they first notice their lupus symptoms, it takes nearly six years for individuals with lupus to be diagnosed. 63 percent of people with lupus report being incorrectly diagnosed. Of those in the group reporting misdiagnosis, more than half reported seeing four or more different providers before their accurate diagnosis!

In addition to its complex and confusing symptoms, lupus can have big effects on your wallet. An October 2008 study found that the average annual direct health care cost of individuals with lupus was $12,643. The same study states the mean annual productivity costs (lost hours of productive work) for participants of employment age was $8,659.

The similarities of lupus symptoms to those of other diseases and the lack of testing protocols makes this inflammatory disease one of the most obvious candidates for the Best Doctors service. It’s important to take note of the symptoms you are experiencing. Having these in mind as you visit your physician will help you find the correct diagnosis. It goes without saying that second opinions are never a bad idea for health issues that are known to be so difficult to diagnose.

August 01, 2016

HEALTH MATTERS SERIES: When the symptom is a headache, finding the right treatment shouldn’t be

Headache

According to the World Health Organization, it has been estimated that almost half of the adult population has had a headache at least once within the last year. Chronic headaches can be among the most mysterious of health conditions, indicating other conditions or sometimes simply existing as a standalone problem.

The high probability of misdiagnosis in headaches raises some serious issues. Headache disorders collectively, were the third highest cause worldwide of years lost due to disability. A difficulty in diagnosis leads to more suffering, money spent and time wasted. And in the case of headache disorders, this applies to an amazingly large population.

Let us familiarize ourselves with two different types of headache disorders with common symptoms: migraines and cluster headaches.

Cluster headaches occur in cyclical patterns or clusters, and they are one of the most painful types of headache. A cluster headache commonly awakens you in the middle of the night with intense pain in or around one eye on one side of your head. Bouts of frequent attacks, known as cluster periods, can last for several months, usually followed by remission periods when the headaches subside for many months, and sometimes even years.

A cluster headache strikes quickly, usually without warning, although it is sometimes preceded by migraine-like nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. Common signs and symptoms during a headache include:

  • Excruciating pain, generally situated in or around one eye
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive tearing
  • Redness and swelling in your eye on the affected side
  • Stuffy or runny nose on the affected side

Other migraine-like symptoms—including sensitivity to light and sound—can occur with a cluster headache, though usually on one side.

A migraine, on the other hand, is usually a severe headache felt as a throbbing pain at the front or side of the head. Some people also have other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and increased sensitivity to light or sound. The intensity and severity of migraines often cause misdiagnosis between the two types of headaches.

Cluster headaches are also sometimes confused with sinus headaches, further complicating the diagnosis.

The similarities between cluster headaches and migraines are subtle, but they are enough to make it difficult for your doctor to make a certain diagnosis. If you are experiencing severe, debilitating headaches, pay special attention to the symptoms you are experiencing and write them down so you can remember to tell your doctor. In addition to advocating for your own health, never be afraid to ask for a second opinion. It’s estimated that half of the affected population self-treats with over-the-counter medications, but a lot of the time this Band-Aid fix is not as effective long-term as an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Headache

According to the World Health Organization, it has been estimated that almost half of the adult population has had a headache at least once within the last year. Chronic headaches can be among the most mysterious of health conditions, indicating other conditions or sometimes simply existing as a standalone problem.

The high probability of misdiagnosis in headaches raises some serious issues. Headache disorders collectively, were the third highest cause worldwide of years lost due to disability. A difficulty in diagnosis leads to more suffering, money spent and time wasted. And in the case of headache disorders, this applies to an amazingly large population.

Let us familiarize ourselves with two different types of headache disorders with common symptoms: migraines and cluster headaches.

Cluster headaches occur in cyclical patterns or clusters, and they are one of the most painful types of headache. A cluster headache commonly awakens you in the middle of the night with intense pain in or around one eye on one side of your head. Bouts of frequent attacks, known as cluster periods, can last for several months, usually followed by remission periods when the headaches subside for many months, and sometimes even years.

A cluster headache strikes quickly, usually without warning, although it is sometimes preceded by migraine-like nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. Common signs and symptoms during a headache include:

  • Excruciating pain, generally situated in or around one eye
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive tearing
  • Redness and swelling in your eye on the affected side
  • Stuffy or runny nose on the affected side

Other migraine-like symptoms—including sensitivity to light and sound—can occur with a cluster headache, though usually on one side.

A migraine, on the other hand, is usually a severe headache felt as a throbbing pain at the front or side of the head. Some people also have other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and increased sensitivity to light or sound. The intensity and severity of migraines often cause misdiagnosis between the two types of headaches.

Cluster headaches are also sometimes confused with sinus headaches, further complicating the diagnosis.

The similarities between cluster headaches and migraines are subtle, but they are enough to make it difficult for your doctor to make a certain diagnosis. If you are experiencing severe, debilitating headaches, pay special attention to the symptoms you are experiencing and write them down so you can remember to tell your doctor. In addition to advocating for your own health, never be afraid to ask for a second opinion. It’s estimated that half of the affected population self-treats with over-the-counter medications, but a lot of the time this Band-Aid fix is not as effective long-term as an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.