As a person’s age progresses, his or her health typically declines in some ways. Of course, that’s not always true for everyone, but it is a fact of life for many. Whether the doctor is too busy to listen or is genuinely confused, many patients find themselves misdiagnosed. Here are four of the most commonly misdiagnosed issues that seniors face.
Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract infections are very common among people of all ages, and seniors are no exception. When you picture the classic symptoms of a UTI, you may think of painful urination, blood in the urine, and lower back pain. However, senior patients can also exhibit signs like agitation, confusion, lethargy, and even frequent falls. As such, it’s easy for doctors to misdiagnose a urinary tract infection. Medical mistakes, such as missed or late diagnoses, are estimated to kill up to 440,000 people in the U.S each year. It’s not uncommon for doctors to dismiss the thought of a UTI and to call it dementia or Alzheimer’s. If you are suspicious of a possible urinary tract infection, always seek out a second opinion.
In healthy adults, dehydration can easily be fixed. However, it’s a serious condition in geriatric patients. As people age, their brains slow down, and thirst signals get lost in translation. Not taking in enough liquids can quickly cause an issue for older individuals. Once dehydrated, patients may show symptoms such as confusion, low blood pressure, and a rapid heart rate. Doctors often confuse dehydration in older patients as a urinary tract infection or even dementia. The symptoms are not always crystal clear, and it’s easy to give a misdiagnosis.
Fibromyalgia is another illness that is commonly misdiagnosed among geriatric patients. Individuals who experience this illness often have symptoms such as pain throughout the muscles, headaches, and fatigue. Classic signs can also include a sore neck, shoulders, and back. Many people complain of joint pain and stiffness, too. Joint pain can also be linked to arthritis, which is diagnosed for almost half of the patients over age 65. You can see how these two illnesses could be easily confused. If you ever feel that your condition has been inappropriately diagnosed, you can go to another doctor to address your concerns.
As the name implies, delirium is an imbalance in one’s mental abilities. Typically, patients with this condition are confused, agitated, and paranoid. Because of these symptoms, delirium is often confused with dementia. However, delirium is often brought on by pre-existing conditions like hormonal disorders. Patients who don’t take in enough nutrients can also find themselves with this condition. Additionally, there are certain drugs that can bring on delirium, such as antidepressants and benzodiazepines.
If you’re an elderly patient who has been diagnosed but it doesn’t feel right, seek out further advice with a second opinion. You’re the best advocate for yourself! Never just accept what you’ve been told.
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