The Diagnostic Puzzle


As medical professionals, we encounter various challenges in diagnosing and treating patients effectively. Diagnosis can be achieved through tests that confirm the presence of a suspected condition or by excluding other possibilities. At times, we find ourselves conducting tests that reveal the absence of a disease, offering reassurance while leaving us questioning the underlying cause.

Medical intake form on a clipboard with stethoscope and pen resting on top

The Patient’s Case: Elevated Red Blood Cell Count

Recently, I had a patient who presented with an elevated red blood cell count. Concerned, I referred them to a hematologist to delve deeper into the issue. Extensive genetic tests were conducted to rule out any mutations or blood cancers, and thankfully, the results were negative. Despite not finding any serious health issues, the question remained – what was causing the increased red blood cell count?

Sleep Apnea and the Surprising Underlying Connection

Through my Functional Medicine approach and investigations, I discovered that the patient had a history of snoring, which led me to research the connection between sleep apnea and elevated red blood cell counts. Treating the suspected sleep apnea through intervention proved fruitful, as subsequent blood tests showed a decline in red blood cell count back to normal levels.

In medicine, especially in oncology, our initial priority is to exclude the presence of serious conditions like cancer. Therefore, the patient’s blood test might have been part of this precautionary process.

 Using Functional Medicine on the Path to Comprehensive Healing

Proving the existence of a disease can be achieved through diagnostic tests or interventions that target the ailment. Although sleep apnea was not officially diagnosed, a sleep study could have provided objective evidence. Nonetheless, the intervention yielded positive results, strongly suggesting that sleep apnea was the underlying cause of the elevated red blood cell count. 

Often, health conditions are classified under specific names like autoimmune disorders, idiopathic (of unknown cause), or even Long Covid. However, each of these conditions stems from a multitude of underlying health issues. My specialization lies in uncovering these underlying factors through pattern analysis, lab tests, and targeted interventions with supplements, dietary adjustments, or environmental changes.

To all new patients, I extend an invitation to schedule a free 15-minute introductory consultation by clicking the button below. Let’s work together to unravel the mysteries behind your health conditions and find a path toward comprehensive healing.

Existing patients can conveniently contact me through the Charm portal for messages or to schedule appointments. Rest assured, I am here to address your questions and offer any support you may need in your journey to better health.

Dr. Richard Chen

To your health!

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