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3 Things I Want Medical Professionals to Consider When Patients Have Unexplained Symptoms

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Health providers are the ones we go to when we feel something is wrong physically. So why, in my experience, are there so many medical professionals who give up on finding an answer and attribute it to mental illness?

I know that for me, I have had depression and anxiety for a long time, and the pain and/or exhaustion from depression is a totally different feeling than the physical symptoms I was physically feeling.

This is what I want medical professionals to consider when encountering a patient with unexplained physical symptoms.

1. Vitamins and Metals: For me, I never knew our bodies need copper. For years I’ve had tingling in the feet and hands, sheer exhaustion and generalized weakness. It turned out to be vitamin B deficiency and copper deficiency. Due to the progression of these deficiencies, I have permanent damage to my nervous system. I was diagnosed with vitamin B and copper-related myeloneuropathy.

Make sure every blood test is performed. Test for the most rare possible causes for one’s symptoms. This may save a person from the despair and agony that can come with a chronic illness.

2. Autoimmune Disorders: Much of the research I’ve done throughout my personal and professional careers has suggested autoimmune disorder blood tests can be inconsistent. One day it could be positive, and the next day it could be negative.

So why is it that some medical professionals are so quick to discard these results? I had a positive antinuclear antibodies (ANA) panel with the titer being on the lowest of the abnormal range. And doctors discarded it because two weeks later, it was negative.

It’s important for medical professionals to pay attention to the positive results, because even if it’s not specific to one autoimmune disorder, there is something in the body causing it to be positive. Instead of relying heavily on these tests solely, also listen to what patients are experiencing.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Go Outside of the Box: Most unexplainable symptoms are complex and involve many medical professionals for the different areas of the body affected.

Even if symptoms do not perfectly align with a specific disorder, please don’t rule it out and put it by the wayside. There may be symptoms down the road that present, but by then, permanent damage may be done already.

I had physical symptoms that weren’t acknowledged for years. I went to numerous mental health professionals with no success in alleviating my physical symptoms. And it was all because I had a real issue going on in my body that medical professionals didn’t believe was a true physical condition.

Don’t be so quick to discount a person’s physical symptoms. You have the chance at correcting something that may otherwise cause permanent damage to a person’s physical health. Please believe them.

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Thinkstock image by Photodisc

Originally published: June 21, 2017
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