Blaming a Sympton on the Wrong Illness

Recently I attended the Medical Academy of Pediatric and Special Needs conference in North Carolina and had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Erica Peirson talk about diagnostic overshadowing. She explained this can occur when clinicians see a patient with mental illness and blame a symptom that the patient is concerned about on their condition such as autism.

That can happen with other conditions as well. I am reminded of a client of mine who has mast cell activation. She had a lot of food intolerances and it was very easy to blame her food intolerances on her mast cell activation.

Doctor pointing to medical icons
She had bad breath and couldn’t tolerate most vegetables. She was constipated and not going to the bathroom as well. A gut test was done which showed that she had Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) which is an infection in the gut.

She had testing done which showed that a gut infection was one of the factors causing her mast cells to over-activate. Now that there was a known gut infection, something could be done about the gut.

Benefits of Ruling Out Other Causes

If we had just blamed the food issues on the mast cells, then one of the underlying factors would have been missed. She had the SIBO treated with antibiotics and the bad breath went away as did the constipation. She was treated with antibiotics because the gut issues were bothering her and the antibiotics seemed the most effective agent for the job.

Ideally it is better to treat with natural agents as it does not affect the gut flora but every individual case is different. In this case the gut issues were really bothering her and affecting her health so it was decided to go for the stronger antibiotics.

Take Control of Your Health and
Get the Right Treatment for Your New Symptoms

So if you are having a health issue, think about whether it is being blamed on another condition or whether further testing should be done to look into that specific issue. Be an advocate for yourself so that your health symptoms get the attention they deserve.

Thank you for joining me in this exploration of how to think about health symptoms. I would be honored to help you determine what health issue is causing which symptom.

If you’re an existing patient, you can contact me via the Charm portal.

Dr. Richard Chen

To your health!

Dr. Richard Chen
Focused Wellness Author,
A New Way to Health: Wheel of Health
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