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Diseases » Anemia » Misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosis of Anemia

Misdiagnosis of Anemia

Diagnosing anemia and its underlying cause may be delayed or missed because in some cases anemia develops gradually and the symptoms may not be severe enough for a person to seek medical care. In addition, some people may believe that some symptoms of anemia, such as confusion, dizziness, and falls, are a normal part of aging. Mild symptoms may also be attributed to such conditions as general exhaustion and stress.

Anemia is a symptom of many different conditions, and some of them are potentially serious. A thorough medical evaluation is needed to ensure an accurate diagnosis of the reason for the anemia....more about Anemia »

Alternative diagnoses list for Anemia:

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

Diseases for which Anemia may be an alternative diagnosis

The other diseases for which Anemia is listed as a possible alternative diagnosis in their lists include:

Anemia: Hidden Causes Misdiagnosed?

Causes of Anemia may include these medical conditions:

Rare Types of Anemia:

Anemia: Medical Mistakes

Related medical mistakes may include:

Anemia: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed conditions in related areas may include:

Discussion of diagnosis/misdiagnosis of Anemia:

If EPO, iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid all fail, your doctor should look for other causes such as sickle cell disease or an inflammatory problem. At one time, aluminum poisoning contributed to anemia in people with kidney failure because many phosphate binders used for treating bone disease caused by kidney failure were antacids that contained aluminum. But aluminum-free alternatives are now widely available. Be sure your phosphate binder and your other drugs are free of aluminum. (Source: excerpt from Anemia in Kidney Disease and Dialysis: NIDDK)

Common Misdiagnoses and Anemia

Unnecessary hysterectomies due to undiagnosed bleeding disorder in women: The bleeding disorder called Von Willebrand's disease is quite common in women, but often fails to be correctly diagnosed. Women with the condition tend to have heavy periods, since they actually have a bleeding disorder. Severe afflictions may result in the women receiving a hysterectomy unnecessarily, when the underlying cause has not been identified. See the introduction to Von Willebrand's disease and bleeding disorder.

Anemia undiagnosed in pregnancy: The onset of anemia (low red blood cells) in pregnancy is sometimes overlooked, despite it being a well-known complication of pregnancy. The problem may be that the main symptom, i.e. fatigue, is also a typical symptom of pregnancy itself. Furthermore, diagnosis of anemia requires a blood test to determine the level of red blood cells. Failure to diagnose anemia is dangerous to the health of the mother near the end of pregnancy, and increases the risk of severe maternal hemorrhage and blood loss during birth (possibly even leading to maternal death). Anemia treatment varies by severity ranging from diet changes, iron tablets, or even iron injections; see treatment of anemia. See introduction to anemia and misdiagnosis of anemia.

ADHD diagnosis overlooked hidden nutritional disorder: The book "A Dose of Sanity" reports on a case of a boy diagnosed with ADHD and receiving Ritalin. His symptoms included tiredness, irritability, poor growth, and eating dirt and unusual foods (a symptom called "pica"). The corrected diagnosis was iron-deficiency anemia.

Cluster of diseases with difficult diagnosis issues: There is a well-known list of medical conditions that are all somewhat difficult to diagnose, and all can present in a variety of different severities. Diseases in this group include multiple sclerosis, lupus, Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, thyroid disorders (hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism), chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes - all of these can have vague symptoms in their early presentations. Also, depression can have some symptoms similar to these conditions, and also the reverse, that many of these conditions can mimic depression and be misdiagnosed as depression.

Rare type of breast cancer without a lump: There is a less common form of breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer. Its symptoms can be an inflammation of the breast tissue, such as with a breast rash with redness and warmth, but not necessarily a physical breast lump. This type of breast cancer should be considered as an uncommon possibility for certain types of breast symptoms.

Pituitary conditions often undiagnosed cause of symptoms: There are a variety of symptoms that can be caused by a pituitary disorder (see symptoms of pituitary disorders). For example, fatigue, headache, weight gain, diabetes-like symptoms, and various other symptoms. Pituitary tumors and other similar conditions are not as rare as physicians tend to believe. See introduction to pituitary conditions.

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.

Anemia: Rare Types

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

Failure To Diagnose Anemia

Failure to diagnose Anemia may be associated with the following:

  • Many sufferers of anemia fail to show mild if any symptoms which prevents diagnosis
  • Undiagnosed anemia can lead to heart problems such as heart failure
  • Undiagnosed anemia can also result in intermittent claudication or aggravation of myocardial ischemia
  • Anemia is often undiagnosed as symptoms such as headaches, loss of appetite, tiredness, depression etc are not recognized as signs of the blood disorder as they can be caused by numerous other conditions
  • Research increasingly indicates that restless leg syndrome may actually be a sign of iron deficiency. Treatment with high doses of iron has cured symptoms despite the fact that the patients had normal iron level readings prior to treatment
  • Undiagnosed and untreated anemia which is severe or starts suddenly can result in reduced blood flow through peripheral blood vessels which in turn can have a number of affects on the body: salt and water retention by the kidneys, poor skin healing, thin hair, prematurely grey hair, gastrointestinal symptoms (abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, anorexia), nervous system problems (walking problems, numbness, weakness, spasticity, abnormal reflexes)
  • Failure to diagnose anemia may increase the risk of death
  • Generalizations about racial prevalences for certain types of anemias may result in a failure to diagnose. For example, sickle cell anemia is generally considered to occur mainly in blacks so a medical professional is less likely to look for signs of the condition in "white" patients
  • Slow developing anemia is less likely to be diagnosed than anemia that develops rapidly
  • Blood loss due to menstruation is often underestimated if only a routine enquiry is made and thorough questioning should be used to determine if it is excessive enough to cause anemia. Indeed, the same goes for blood loss caused by any gastrointestinal disorder
  • The failure to diagnose and treat certain types of anemia may result in permanent neurological and other complications

Notes On Hidden Causes Of Anemia

The following may be hidden causes of Anemia:

  • Hidden causes of anemia may include poor diet, pregnancy, menorrhagia, NSAID medication, anticoagulant medication and gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Other hidden causes may include alcoholism, gastric surgery, ileal disease, Crohn's disease, vitamin B12 deficiency, vegetarian diets and lead toxicity
  • Other causes include infection, major illness, cancer, drug use, hormonal disorders, chronic inflammation, surgery, peptic ulcers, hemorrhoids, diverticular disease, liver damage, thyroid disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, bone marrow disease, hereditary diseases such as thalassemia
  • Infants can develop anemia after they are weaned from breast milk or formula as their bodies are less able to absorb iron from solid food
  • Inherited blood disorder is a cause of many types of anemia
  • Chemotherapy drugs and radiation used in cancer treatment may cause anemia
  • Bone marrow problems is a cause of a number of types of anemia
  • Excessive cooking of food can destroy folic acid and hence contribute to anemia caused by folic acid deficiency
  • Skin diseases such as chronic exfoliative dermatitis can contribute to anemia caused by folic acid deficiency
  • People from a low socioeconomic class are more prone to anemia as they are less able to afford an adequate iron-rich diet

Notes On Wrong Diagnosis Of Anemia

Wrong diagnosis of Anemia may be associated with the following:

  • Fatigue may be misdiagnosed as depression in HIV patients being treated with anti-HCV therapy. In fact, fatigue due to anemia may be diagnosed as depression in the general population as the two are sometimes indistinguishable
  • The signs of anemia are often put down to a busy lifestyle
  • Cold intolerance due to anemia may be ignored especially in a thin individual

Complications Of Misdiagnosis Of Anemia

The following may be complications of misdiagnosis of Anemia:

  • Joint pain caused by anemia (especially sickle cell anemia) is often ignored or misdiagnosed as arthritis
  • Low grade fever can result from undiagnosed anemia

Other Notes On Misdiagnosis Of Anemia

  • Serum ferritin levels are the best measurable indicator of anemia as it measures the level of stored iron
  • Anemia is more common in females than males
  • A diagnosis of anemia is an inadequate diagnosis unless the underlying cause is determined and treated
  • Ingestion of antacids can impair iron supplement absorption
  • Milk and milk products can also interfere with iron supplement absorption

Medical news summaries about misdiagnosis of Anemia:

The following medical news items are relevant to misdiagnosis of Anemia:

Misdiagnosis and Anemia deaths

Anemia is a condition that can possibly be deadly if misdiagnosed...more »

General Misdiagnosis Articles

Read these general articles with an overview of misdiagnosis issues.

About misdiagnosis:

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


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