When we visit a doctor, phlebotomist, or a specialist with symptoms, we expect to leave with certain answers on the diagnosis. But when even differential diagnosis fails, taking care of ourselves becomes difficult- especially emotionally.
It’s unlikely for anything to be more frustrating for both a patient and their healthcare parties than a set of symptoms that don’t lead them to the diagnosis of a particular, or more issues, with surety.
The convention that consultations should ideally end with a diagnosis adds up to the same. Healthcare professionals have always been trained to enquire, examine, test and then arrive at conclusions to explain what’s wrong. This gap from differential diagnosis at a majority of diagnostic center facilities creates unnecessary pressure towards wrong diagnosis and treatment.
Why Can't a Diagnosis Be Concluded?
As advanced as diagnosis and healthcare are today, perfection in them is an impractical idea and expectation - purely because there are humans involved in varying capacities at every stage of it.
Outside differential diagnosis, there may be a number of factors contributing to an ambiguous diagnosis, such as:
1. Complex symptoms and/or unclear body systems causing the symptoms
2. The patient taking the right reports but to the wrong specialists
3. Conflicts among the medications/supplements being consumed
4. The patient may be having a mix of health problems
5. Symptoms with no defined tests
6. The match of symptoms with the patient’s age
7. Lack of truthfulness about symptoms- smoking and alcohol consumption are the leading examples
8. A diagnosis yet to be discovered by medical science
How To Cope Without The Answers
Stand Up For Yourself - When it comes to the diagnosis of rare conditions/diseases, failure is a prominent possibility. Visiting an academic medical/diagnostic center and offering help in facilitating your recovery go a long way.
Keep journals of your symptoms, observe patterns that can help reach a clear diagnosis and communicate comprehensively with the healthcare team taking care of you.
Dig Deep Into Research - If your phlebotomists, physicians or even specialists haven’t been able to arrive to a conclusive diagnosis, tap into undiagnosed disease networks that help patients with similar issues, keeping track of your symptoms until a certain diagnosis is discovered.
Make Yourself Feel Loved - Human connection and touch is often undermined- it can help make us feel safe, supported and in comprehension, healthier. While your family and loved ones won’t necessarily feel what you’re going through, but their efforts and their company will definitely be healing.
Wait With Wit - Sometimes, a particular set of symptoms may have a diagnosis in existence, but it may be rather new, uncommon, and/or rare that doctors may not know how to determine and organise it. Waiting with wit and continual efforts with your doctors is definitely worth it!
All these are mere examples- even with differential diagnosis, a diagnosis center or healthcare worker may not arrive at a conclusive diagnosis for you, and that’s okay.
A point worth mentioning for patients who go undiagnosed - it's important to always remember that your healthcare providers always strive to have only a clear diagnosis, since that is key in giving you the right treatment.
*All the info shared above is purely for educational purposes. For any kind of medical advice, we advise you to consult a doctor or visit your nearest diagnostic centre/hospital on an immediate basis.