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Misdiagnosis of Acid reflux / heartburn

Misdiagnosis of Acid reflux / heartburn

Heartburn is not difficult to diagnose, however, it may be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of heartburn....more about Acid reflux / heartburn »

Alternative diagnoses list for Acid reflux / heartburn:

For a diagnosis of Acid reflux / heartburn, the following list of conditions have been mentioned in sources as possible alternative diagnoses to consider during the diagnostic process for Acid reflux / heartburn:

Rare Types of Acid reflux / heartburn:

Acid reflux / heartburn: Medical Mistakes

Related medical mistakes may include:

Acid reflux / heartburn: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed conditions in related areas may include:

Common Misdiagnoses and Acid reflux / heartburn

Heart attacks can be undiagnosed: Although the most severe symptoms of heart attack are hard to miss, there are varying degrees of severity. It is altogether too common for people to die from undiagnosed heart attack, or from delaying too long to call for emergency help. The prognosis for treatment is far better for patients treated in the early stages of a heart attack. The most common misdiagnoses include heartburn, or other less severe causes of chest pain. See the introduction to heart attack and the symptoms of heart attack.

Heart attacks can be overdiagnosed: Although many people die from heart attacks, there are also many cases where people fear that they have a heart attack, but actually have something milder. Some of the conditions which may be causes of chest pain, causing fear of a heart attack, including an anxiety attack, heartburn, and so on. See the causes of chest pain and the symptoms of heart attack.

Chronic digestive conditions often misdiagnosed: When diagnosing chronic symptoms of the digestive tract, there are a variety of conditions that may be misdiagnosed. The best known, irritable bowel syndrome, is over-diagnosed, whereas other causes that are less known may be overlooked or misdiagnosed: celiac disease, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis (both are called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)), diabetic gastroparesis, diabetic diarrhea. Other possibilities include giardia, colon cancer, or other chronic infections.

Rare heart condition often undiagnosed: The rare heart condition called long QT syndrome can lead to episodes of palpitations and rapid heartbeat. In rare cases, this undiagnosed condition can be fatal. It should be considered for any unexplained heart rhythm abnormality.

Intestinal bacteria disorder may be hidden cause: One of the lesser known causes of diarrhea is an imbalance of bacterial in the gut, sometimes called intestinal imbalance. The digestive system contains a variety of "good" bacteria that aid digestion, and they can decline for various reasons, leading to digestive symptoms such as diarrhea. The main treatment is to eat foods containing probiotics, typically yoghurt cultures. See intestinal imbalance and probiotics.

Antibiotics often causes diarrhea: The use of antibiotics are very likely to cause some level of diarrhea in patients. The reason is that antibiotics kill off not only "bad" bacteria, but can also kill the "good" bacteria in the gut. This leads to "digestive imbalance" where there are too few remaining "good" bacteria in the digestive system. The treatment is typically to use "probiotics", such as by eating yoghurt cultures containing more of the good bacteria. See digestive imbalance and probiotics.

Heart attack can be over-diagnosed: Although heart attack is often undiagnosed, leading to fatality, it can also be over-diagnosed. People become concerned that a condition is a heart attack, whereas there are various less dangerous possibilities. After all, there are numerous causes of chest pain. Some of the common conditions where a person may become concerned about a possible heart attack include a panic attack (which often has both chest pain and difficulty breathing), and heartburn/reflux type conditions. Nevertheless, chest pain itself can be a potentially life-threatening symptoms, and needs immediate professional attention.

Food poisoning may actually be an infectious disease: Many people who come down with "stomach symptoms" like diarrhea assume that it's "something I ate" (i.e. food poisoning). In fact, it's more likely to be an infectious diarrheal illness (i.e. infectious diarrhea), that has been caught from another person. Such conditions may be transmitted via the fecal-oral route.

Mesenteric adenitis misdiagnosed as appendicitis in children: Because appendicitis is one of the more feared conditions for a child with abdominal pain, it can be over-diagnosed (it can, of course, also fail to be diagnosed with fatal effect). One of the most common misdiagnosed is for children with mesenteric adenitis to be misdiagnosed as appendicitis. Fortunately, thus misdiagnosis is usually less serious than the reverse failure to diagnose appendicitis.

Leg cramps at night a classic sign: The symptom of having leg muscle cramps, particularly at night, is a classic sign of undiagnosed diabetes. However, there are also various other causes. See causes of leg cramps or misdiagnosis of diabetes.

Blood pressure cuffs misdiagnose hypertension in children: One known misdiagnosis issue with hyperension, arises in relation to the simple equipment used to test blood pressure. The "cuff" around the arm to measure blood pressure can simply be too small to accurately test a child's blood pressure. This can lead to an incorrect diagnosis of a child with hypertension. The problem even has a name unofficially: "small cuff syndrome". See misdiagnosis of hypertension.

Celiac disease often fails to be diagnosed cause of chronic digestive symptoms: One of the most common chronic digestive conditions is celiac disease, a malabsorption disorder with a variety of symptoms (see symptoms of celiac disease). A variety of other chronic digestive disorders tend to be diagnosed rather than this condition. See introduction to celiac disease or misdiagnosis of celiac disease.

Hypertension misdiagnosis common in children: Hypertension is often misdiagnosed in adults (see misdiagnosis of hypertension), but its misdiagnosis is even more likely in children. Some of the symptoms of hypertension that can be overlooked include chest pain, headaches, abdominal pain, etc. See symptoms of hypertension or misdiagnosis of hypertension.

Vitamin B12 deficiency under-diagnosed: The condition of Vitamin B12 deficiency is a possible misdiagnosis of various conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (see symptoms of multiple sclerosis). See symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency or misdiagnosis of multiple sclerosis.

Chronic digestive diseases hard to diagnose: There is an inherent difficulty in diagnosing the various types of chronic digestive diseases. Some of the better known possibilities are peptic ulcer, colon cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, or GERD. Other sometimes overlooked possibilities include Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, chronic appendicitis, Celiac disease, Carcinoid syndrome, gastroparesis, and others. See all types of chronic digestive diseases.

Acid reflux / heartburn: Rare Types

Rare types of medical disorders and diseases in related medical areas:

Failure To Diagnose Acid reflux / heartburn

Failure to diagnose Acid reflux / heartburn may be associated with the following:

  • Undiagnosed repeated acid reflux leads to gastroesophageal reflux disease which can result in complications such as esophagitis, iron-deficiency anemia, strictures, respiratory problems (asthma, pneumonia), swallowing problems and Barrett's esophagus which is a premalignant condition
  • Undiagnosed Barrett's esophagus leaves patients facing a higher risk of esophageal cancer which is difficult to treat
  • Other complications of undiagnosed acid reflux are chronic cough, chest pain, hoarseness, eroded teeth, laryngeal cancer, pharyngitis, chronic sinusitis and vocal cord polyps
  • Some cases of acid reflux cause no heartburn which prevents diagnosis and in fact means that sufferers are unaware that there is even anything wrong
  • The lack of clinical signs in many cases means that a lot of cases of acid reflux are not diagnosed
  • One of the complications of undiagnosed acid reflux is scarring of the esophagus which can actually reduce heartburn symptoms and mistakenly lead patients to believe they are getting better
  • Chronic untreated acid reflux can also lead to Barrett's esophagus which is a precancerous condition
  • Often heartburn symptoms lessen once Barrett's esophagus develops which may deceive patients into believing they are getting better
  • Failure to diagnose acid reflux often leads to Barrett's esophagus and ultimately esophageal cancer which has poor survival rates
  • Undiagnosed and untreated acid reflux can exacerbate asthma symptoms
  • Acid reflux is often undiagnosed in infants as symptoms are difficult to determine
  • The presentation of atypical symptoms (vocal cord polyps, adult-onset asthma, chronic cough, hoarse voice) may hinder diagnosis
  • Acid reflux is often undiagnosed due to the fact that the presenting symptoms are quite variable and may often be attributed to other causes
  • Failure to diagnose acid reflux in infants can result in a range of complications including failure to thrive, apnea, aspiration pneumonia and asthma
  • Failure to diagnose acid reflux or heartburn can lead to the more serious gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Many people believe that heartburn is a fact of life or a trivial complaint which doesn't warrant a visit to the doctor

Notes On Hidden Causes Of Acid reflux / heartburn

The following may be hidden causes of Acid reflux / heartburn:

  • Causes of acid reflux include obesity, hiatus hernia and certain drugs (NSAIDs, antidepressants, anticholinergics and calcium-channel blockers)
  • Factors that can exacerbate acid reflux are fatty food, spicy food, eating late at night, alcohol, hot drinks, smoking, pregnancy, tight clothing around the abdomen, vigorous exercise, bending over or lying down frequently and large meals
  • Other conditions that may cause acid reflux are Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, partial gastrectomy, Heller's cardiomyopathy and systemic sclerosis
  • Other causes of acid reflux include: pyloric surgery, long-term nasogastric intubation
  • Particular foods that can lead to an episode of reflux includes: chocolate, garlic, onions, mint flavouring, tomato-based foods, citrus fruit and caffeine-containing drinks

Notes On Wrong Diagnosis Of Acid reflux / heartburn

Wrong diagnosis of Acid reflux / heartburn may be associated with the following:

  • Chest pain caused by a heart condition is sometimes misdiagnosed as acid reflux
  • Studies indicate that many infants diagnosed with cow's milk allergy actually have acid reflux
  • Acid reflux is often misdiagnosed when the only presenting symptoms are throat and vocal cord symptoms
  • Acid reflux is often misdiagnosed as dyspepsia
  • If treatment for acid reflux fails to make any difference to symptoms then the patient may have been misdiagnosed and further investigation is warranted

Complications Of Misdiagnosis Of Acid reflux / heartburn

The following may be complications of misdiagnosis of Acid reflux / heartburn:

  • Manifestations of acid reflux are often misdiagnosed as other conditions unrelated to the actual cause e.g. chronic cough, hoarseness
  • Asthma-like symptoms caused by acid reflux may be misdiagnosed as asthma
  • Chest pain due to acid reflux may be misdiagnosed as angina or heart pain. To make diagnosis even more confusion, antianginal therapy such as glyceryl trinitrate spray can actually alleviate esophageal spasms associated with acid reflux. Also, chest pain caused by acid reflux may worsen with exercise which can also provide misleading support for a heart complaint rather than acid reflux
  • Vomiting in infants due to acid reflux can be misdiagnosed as necrotizing enterocolitis, pyloric stenosis, intestinal atresia, Hirschsprung's disease, malrotated gut, peptic ulcer disease, inborn error of metabolism or meconium ileus
  • Pneumonia due to aspiration associated with acid reflux may be misdiagnosed simply as pneumonia
  • Hoarseness and sore throat caused by acid reflux may be misdiagnosed as infectious pharyngitis
  • Tooth erosion in acid reflux patients who have no other symptoms is often misdiagnosed as poor dental hygiene, defective tooth enamel, diet problems or an eating disorder

Other Notes On Misdiagnosis Of Acid reflux / heartburn

  • Regular bouts of heartburn should not be ignored as the consequences can be serious. In general, people who have two or more bouts of heartburn a week should be assessed for acid reflux
  • Children with asthma are more likely to have acid reflux than the general population
  • Nausea is sometimes associated with acid reflux but may be put down as due to other causes
  • Some studies indicate that untreated acid reflux may in fact cause asthma in some cases
  • Some medical experts believe that acid reflux is being overdiagnosed in infants and young children. As the public has become more informed about the existence of the condition, parents with infants who spit up frequently tend to insist on treatment for the condition without conclusive diagnosis. Other experts claim that infants are being underdiagnosed because mothers are not well-informed about acid reflux
  • Sufferers of heartburn often control their condition through over-the-counter medication which is intended only for the occasional episodes of heartburn. Persistent heartburn needs to be investigated by a health professional to determine the serious of the condition and the most appropriate treatment. Self diagnosis is unadvisable as symptoms may be minimal even though significant damage is occurring
  • Treatment compliance is important in order to prevent complications. Anyone undergoing a treatment plan should check with their doctor before stopping

General Misdiagnosis Articles

Read these general articles with an overview of misdiagnosis issues.

About misdiagnosis:

When checking for a misdiagnosis of Acid reflux / heartburn or confirming a diagnosis of Acid reflux / heartburn, it is useful to consider what other medical conditions might be possible misdiagnoses or other alternative conditions relevant to diagnosis. These alternate diagnoses of Acid reflux / heartburn may already have been considered by your doctor or may need to be considered as possible alternative diagnoses or candidates for misdiagnosis of Acid reflux / heartburn. For a general overview of misdiagnosis issues for all diseases, see Overview of Misdiagnosis.


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