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Misdiagnosis of Emphysema

Misdiagnosis of Emphysema

A diagnosis of emphysema may be delayed or missed because the symptoms generally develop slowly over years and may not be noticed initially. Some symptoms, such as fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and pallor, can be vague and attributed to other conditions as such as aging. Other symptoms such as shortness of breath and chest pain are similar to symptoms for such conditions as heart attack, pneumonia, and heart failure.

Only a thorough evaluation by a physician or licensed health care provider can determine the cause of symptoms. It is important to seek prompt medical care if you experience shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, or any other symptoms of emphysema....more about Emphysema »

Alternative diagnoses list for Emphysema:

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

Diseases for which Emphysema may be an alternative diagnosis

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

Emphysema: Hidden Causes Misdiagnosed?

Causes of Emphysema may include these medical conditions:

Rare Types of Emphysema:

Emphysema: Medical Mistakes

Related medical mistakes may include:

Emphysema: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed conditions in related areas may include:

Common Misdiagnoses and Emphysema

Sinusitis is overdiagnosed: There is a tendency to give a diagnosis of sinusitis, when the condition is really a harmless complication of another infection, such as a common cold.

Whooping cough often undiagnosed: Although most children in the Western world have been immunized against whooping cough (also called "pertussis"), this protection wears off after about 15 years. Thus, any teen or adult with a persistent cough may actually have whooping cough. This is particularly dangerous for babies too young to be vaccinated, and any un-vaccinated children. Whooping cough can be fatal to an infant. The cough symptoms of whooping cough is usually productive initially, but then becomes a persistent dry cough, lasting up to 100 days. Elderly grandparents may also be a reservoir of undiagnosed whooping cough.

Chronic lung diseases hard to diagnose: Some of the chronic lung diseases are difficult to diagnose. Even the well-knowns conditions such as asthma or lung cancer often fail to be diagnosed early. Some of the chronic lung diseases with diagnostic difficulties include asthma (perhaps surprisingly), COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, mesothelioma, smoker's cough, AIDS-related respiratory conditions (see AIDS), chronic pneumonia, and other respiratory diseases. Rare possibilities include diseases like psittacosis (bird-related lung infection). See other types of chronic lung diseases.

Emphysema: Rare Types

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

Failure To Diagnose Emphysema

Failure to diagnose Emphysema may be associated with the following:

  • Failure to diagnose and treat emphysema can lead to a more rapid progression of the disease and increased mortality rates. The progress of emphysema can be minimized through treatment and avoidance of precipitating factors such as smoking
  • Emphysema often remains undiagnosed for lengthy periods of time because the initial symptoms such as a persistent morning cough are considered not significant enough to warrant medical advice
  • The absence of symptoms in the early stages of emphysema and the subtle onset of symptoms often results in patients failing to seek medical advice. It's only once the symptoms become more serious that patients tend to act
  • Generally, the later the diagnosis and treatment of emphysema, the poorer the survival rate
  • The damage caused by emphysema is irreversible so early diagnosis is imperative to a good prognosis
  • Damage to the lungs has already occurred by the time symptoms appear
  • Emphysema is a condition that develops later in life and patients with existing asthma often have and symptoms caused by developing emphysema attributed to their asthma. Thus, a pre-existing respiratory condition increases the risk of emphysema being misdiagnosed or undiagnosed
  • Poor posture, poor nutrition and nervous tension may increase the risk of emphysema or exacerbate existing symptoms
  • Studies show that periodontal disease may play a role in the development of emphysema as the bacteria associated with the oral condition may travel to the lungs and cause damaging infection and inflammation
  • Untreated emphysema can result in complications such as heart problems, collapsed lung and pneumonia
  • Undiagnosed and untreated emphysema can lead to right heart failure, pneumothorax, respiratory failure and secondary polycythemia

Notes On Hidden Causes Of Emphysema

The following may be hidden causes of Emphysema:

  • The main causes of emphysema are toxic chemicals and tobacco smoke
  • Other causes of emphysema include occupational exposure to chemical fumes, exposure to dust from grain, cotton, wood or mining product and a genetic disorder called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
  • In developing countries, inhalation of smoke while using biomass fuels for heating and cooking in poorly ventilated areas can lead to emphysema
  • Air pollution may increase the death rate in emphysema sufferers and may even be implicated in the development of the condition
  • Smokers who also have HIV face a greater risk of emphysema
  • Certain connective tissue disorders are often involve emphysema e.g. cutis laxa and Marfan syndrome
  • Some people are genetically predisposed to develop emphysema i.e. have a family history of the disease
  • Fire-fighters face an increased risk of developing emphysema
  • Allergies, chronic bronchitis and asthma can increase the risk of developing emphysema

Notes On Wrong Diagnosis Of Emphysema

Wrong diagnosis of Emphysema may be associated with the following:

  • Emphysema is often misdiagnosed as asthma as they share similar symptoms - e.g. wheezing. Misdiagnosis of the condition leads to inappropriate treatment which can lead to further progression of emphysema.

Complications Of Misdiagnosis Of Emphysema

The following may be complications of misdiagnosis of Emphysema:

  • Sputum production due to emphysema may be misdiagnosed as chronic bronchitis, smoker's cough, bronchiectasis, bronchoalveolar carcinoma, pneumonia, tuberculosis, lung abscess and pulmonary edema
  • Shortness of breath due to emphysema may be misdiagnosed as anemia, pulmonary edema, chronic heart failure, cystic fibrosis, asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and pneumonia
  • Cyanosis associated with emphysema may be misdiagnosed as a heart condition

Other Notes On Misdiagnosis Of Emphysema

  • Respiratory infections in emphysema patients are generally more severe and debilitating
  • Emphysema sufferers need to obtain medical advice when flying as they may require an additional oxygen supply to cope with drop in cabin pressure
  • Severe shortness of breath or swelling in the lower limbs may be a sign of congestive heart failure in emphysema patients
  • Cessation of smoking can greatly improve symptoms and prognosis in emphysema patients. The risk of complications and mortality is also reduced

Medical news summaries about misdiagnosis of Emphysema:

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

Misdiagnosis and Emphysema deaths

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


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