Millions of Americans spend years suffering from unexplained health problems. Sometimes even the best doctors miss the mark: About 40 percent of all mistakes that doctors make are misdiagnoses, says the National Patient Safety Foundation.
That’s because many ailments have similar symptoms or can be detected only with tests that your physician might consider unnecessary if he’s confident in his verdict.
If you’re in the know about often-confused conditions, though, you can ask the right questions to prevent or fix an error — and even save your life.
1. Lupus. Lupus is two to three times more common among African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and Asians — a disparity that remains unexplained. Specifically, lupus is three times more common in black women than in white women. This autoimmune disease, found mainly in women, can cause common symptoms such as fatigue, achy or swollen joints and fevers. More than half say they suffered for at least four years and saw three or more doctors before getting a diagnosis. Black and Hispanic/Latina women tend to develop symptoms at an earlier age than other women. African Americans have more severe organ problems, especially with their kidneys. Between 1979 and 1998, death rates from lupus increased nearly 70 percent among black women between the ages of 45 and 64 years.
To read about the other four diseases doctors most often misdiagnose in Blacks, visit BlackDoctor.org.
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