Medical diagnosis is both an art and a science.
Now, with access to medical information on the Internet, patients are participating in the investigation process. But it can be a problem, especially if a study or medical report is misunderstood.
For example, the antiparasitic drug ivermectin has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for use in animals and humans.
An article published at the end of 2020, which was picked up by the media, indicated that the broad-spectrum antiparasitic had been shown to be successful in a trial with antiviral activity against a number of DNA and RNA viruses, including the coronavirus. . The article went on to explain that despite this promise, the drug has yet to prove its effectiveness in fighting a virus in a living organism.
Calls to poison control centers regarding ivermectin exposures have increased dramatically in recent months, multiplying by five since July, as people have used it to fight COVID-19, according to researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
The FDA has posted warnings on its website warning the public not to take the drug to prevent or cure COVID-19.
Media coverage of public health issues is important, especially during a crisis, such as the coronavirus pandemic.
But the reports are brief and cannot provide all the details of the research.
Johns Hopkins Medicine, like many hospitals, offers information about health conditions and treatments online with the warning “Do not self-diagnose.” “
My family doctor has listened to me patiently for the past few months as I discussed the illnesses I have read that include symptoms similar to my nocturnal itch problems.
The other day I asked my doctor, “What about lupus?
– No, he said, laughing. “It’s never lupus.”
He was referring to MD House, a TV show I hadn’t seen.
Later I found the YouTube video, Each time, it’s not lupus! – youtube.com/watch?v=QmP4DJO6IzE – with excerpts from the TV show about the many misdiagnoses of lupus.
In 2017, a study showed that 21% of patients who sought a second opinion at the Mayo Clinic walked away with a brand new diagnosis.
A doctor in a specific field of medicine can also “pull” a diagnosis towards his own specialty or refuse to diagnose a disease outside his specialty, according to a 2003 study published in the Journal of Biomedical Informatics.
To determine a diagnosis and treatment for a disease, a healthcare professional will order lab tests and analyze the results, examine a patient’s family history, and perform a physical examination of the patient.
Early diagnosis and treatment of the disease can save lives and reduce treatment costs.
But many diseases have similar symptoms, and as more information is learned about an illness, the diagnosis can change.
A friend who was diagnosed with lupus a few years later learned after a new doctor ordered additional tests that she actually had Lyme disease.
And sometimes the disease is detected accidentally.
My nephew David, a neurologist, recommended that I have more tests after my doctors agreed that my diagnosis of shingles earlier this summer may have been wrong.
After an MRI of the brain, a radiologist suggested further evaluation with a whole body bone scan.
After that, a senior medical oncologist ordered a CT scan and additional blood tests.
He was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
The process of diagnosing CLL usually begins with a routine blood test called a full blood count.
The average age of a person diagnosed with CLL is 71.5 years old, my age.
Although my 96-year-old father was not diagnosed, he has suffered from severe anemia, shortness of breath, and fatigue for over five years, all of which are symptoms of CLL.
About 10% of people with CLL have a family history with the disease or a related lymphoproliferative disorder.
There are two different types of LLC; one grows very slowly and the other grows faster and is a more serious disease. Between these two types of CLL, there are several subtypes that differ genetically.
Tests and time will tell which type is mine.
Andy Winnegar has spent his career in rehabilitation and is based in Santa Fe as a training associate for the Southwest ADA Center.