7 Diseases in Women Doctors Miss
Many diseases have similar symptoms; the task of the physician is to conduct a thorough differential diagnosis in order to accurately diagnosis a patient. Some symptoms are more common in women and include increased fatigue, a significant weight gain in the short term, and excessive hair on the body. Experts at Herzliya Medical Center (HMC) feature the seven common diseases in women, which are often not diagnosed in a timely manner due to subtle or confusing symptoms.
Many women go to the doctor with complaints such as increased fatigue, irregular menstrual cycles, unexplained weight gain, etc. Unfortunately, in many cases the doctor does not perform the necessary differential diagnoses, deciding based on the clinical picture that the reason is psychosomatic. The following are seven common diseases in women; their typical symptoms and the diagnostic procedures required – avoid misdiagnosis or late diagnosis and receive effective treatment.
1. Polycystic ovary syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) a hormonal disorder, caused by elevated levels of androgens (male hormones). Multiple cysts develop in the ovaries due to a hormonal imbalance, PCOS affects a woman’s menstrual cycle and fertility; untreated it may lead to obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
Polycystic ovary syndrome symptoms include:
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Excessive hairiness of the face, chest, back and legs
- Thinning of hair on the scalp
- Unexplained rapid weight gain and difficulty losing weight
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is diagnosed by a pelvic ultrasound and laboratory tests, checking blood sugar levels and hormones in the blood.
At the Department of Gynecology at Herzliya Medical Center, US and hysteroscopy (if necessary) can be done during the initial consultation. This allows a diagnosis to be performed in the shortest time possible in order to treat the specific condition.
Fibromyalgia is characterized by unexplained pain spread throughout the body. The disease occurs most often in women aged 20-50 years.
Fibromyalgia symptoms include:
- Abnormal sensitivity in different areas of the body
- Unexplained pain spread throughout the body
- Sleep disorders and depression
Unfortunately, to date there are no tests or studies to unequivocally confirm a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. However, the physician can revise the patient's medical history and symptoms, check the locations of the pain and refer her to diagnostic procedures eliminating other neurological diseases.
3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) might sound imaginary but is now a recognized medical condition. Women are 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with CFS than men, and it’s prevalent in women aged 40-50 years. Some studies have linked the syndrome with a variety of viral infections, hormonal imbalances and stress. According to professionals, chronic fatigue syndrome detected only in 20% of cases.
Chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms include:
- Severe fatigue after physical or cognitive load, which does not improve with rest
- Impaired functionality in daily life, both at work and at home
- Impaired memory and concentration
- Unexplained muscle pain
Unfortunately, to date there are no tests or studies to unequivocally confirm the diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. A patient has to have experienced incurable chronic fatigue for over 6 months to be diagnosed with CFS among the symptoms listed above. The physician revises the patient's medical history and symptoms, referring them for procedures to rule out other disorders (eg, thyroid dysfunction, depression, mononucleosis, etc.).
Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the skin, joints, lungs, kidneys, nervous system and blood. There are four types of lupus, the most common of which is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) – which affects internal organs. According to statistics, 90% of SLE cases are women, usually aged 15-45. There is no cure for lupus.
Lupus symptoms include:
- Severe fatigue
- Increased body temperature
- Stiff and sore joints
- Chest pain
- Memory Disorders
- Wounds and skin rash (“butterfly” rash across nose and cheeks)
- A sudden worsening of symptoms, which in time gets better on its own
Systemic lupus erythematosus is diagnosed by evaluating the presence of at least four of the following symptoms: Rash on the face or on the body after sun exposure, painless oral ulcers, kidney disease, swelling of the heart membranes or lungs, and the level of white blood cells, platelets or red blood cells is below normal.
5. Multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) - an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the myelin sheath of nerve cells, disrupting the transmission of nerve signals, destroying the nerves themselves. The disease develops in people 20-40 years of age and is found among women 3 times more often than in men. MS is elusive to diagnose, appearing and disappearing, imitating other conditions.
Multiple sclerosis symptoms include:
- Numbness or weakness of the limbs
- Blurred or double vision
- Dull pain or tingling
- Fatigue, lack of concentration
- Lack of coordination or clumsiness
- Over the past few years, the process of diagnosing MS has significantly improved. Differential diagnosis will eliminate the presence of infectious and viral diseases with similar symptoms, but the study of the brain (MRI, scintigraphy) definitively confirm the diagnosis.
Specialists of the Department of Neurology at HMC have a wealth of clinical experience in the diagnosis of various degenerative neurological pathologies. A treatment plan is constructed thoroughly and individually, based on the results of diagnostic procedures.
6. Rheumatoid arthritis
In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks the membrane of the articular cartilage, thus leading to swelling, pain, and depending on severity, joint deformity of hands, fingers, pelvis, knees and feet. Rheumatoid arthritis develops between the ages of 40-60 years is found among women 3 times more often than in men.
Multiple sclerosis symptoms include:
- Pain and difficulty performing simple daily tasks (opening bottles, tying shoelaces, etc.)
- Symmetrical symptoms - the same joint is affected on both sides
- Joint stiffness, especially after sleeping
- Sensitivity to touch joints
- Increased body temperature
Unfortunately, rheumatoid arthritis is difficult to diagnose in its early stages in connection with other similar types of arthritis symptoms. Diagnosis is based mainly on the laboratory analyses, the level of rheumatoid factor and C-reactive protein and erythrocyte sedimentation rate. Visualization of the joints with the help of X-ray also helps to diagnose.
7. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) - a chronic disease that causes cramping and abdominal pain. Bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation are also characteristic of the disease. According to statistics, about 20% of the population suffer from this disease, but it occurs in women twice as often than in men.
Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms include:
- Diarrhea or constipation (exclusively or alternately)
- Cramping and abdominal pain
- Painful reaction after consuming dairy and fatty products
For the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome, symptoms must last at least 12 consecutive weeks during the last year. The doctor will conduct a differential diagnosis, and diagnostic procedures such as gastroscopy and colonoscopy.
In the Department Of Gastroenterology at Herzliya Medical Center, invasive diagnostic procedures are performed painlessly with the help of sedation and anesthesia. The latest and advanced equipment allows for a quick and accurate diagnosis.
The case of misdiagnosis can be detrimental to your health. A correct diagnosis - is key to successful treatment. Experts at HMC are at your service; once a patient is diagnosed, an effective treatment is carried out, optimizing the patient’s outcome and their quality of life.