Medical Conditions Doctors Miss
So you're sleepy a lot and maybe a little blue, and your blood pressure is on the high side. It could be stress, or these and other common symptoms could be signs of serious medical conditions that doctors sometimes overlook.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal
imbalance that affects 5% to 10% of premenopausal women, disrupting normal
ovulation and boosting male hormone levels. PCOS can lead to serious
reproductive, metabolic, and cardiovascular problems.
- Irregular or no menstruation
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Excess hair on the face, neck, chest, abdomen, thumbs, or toes
- Depression or mood swings
- Increased risk of certain cancers such as those of the uterine lining
Experts say many women with PCOS go undiagnosed until they have fertility
problems, although data on how many are lacking.
"We know that a large number of women aren't diagnosed with PCOS because
one of the major symptoms of it, which is irregular menstrual cycles, often
isn't considered to be a serious symptom," says Andrea Dunaif, MD,
president-elect of The Endocrine Society and chief endocrinologist at the
Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Illinois. "Also,
about a third of the women don't have another classic symptom of it, which is
excessive hair growth."
Women often don't bring up symptoms to the doctor because the problems could
be seen as commonplace or cosmetic. Even if women do discuss symptoms, some
doctors may not know what to do with the information, says Dunaif. She notes
that many primary care physicians, gynecologists, and dermatologists -- doctors
patients usually turn to for problems related to PCOS -- do not have a lot of
training and experience in the subject of medical reproductive endocrinology.
Although awareness of PCOS has gotten better over the years, she says many
doctors still are not comfortable talking about reproductive or hormonal
Patients who think they may have PCOS could help doctors and themselves by
reading information about the disorder and by being direct and specific about
their concern to doctors.
"There are tons of women out there who are going to places like WebMD,
diagnosing themselves, and saying to their doctors, 'I think I have PCOS. I
have the symptoms," says Dunaif. "If your periods are irregular, that
absolutely has to be evaluated by a physician. You need to know what the cause
The sooner PCOS is diagnosed, the better chances are of reducing the risk of
complications such as heart disease, diabetes, infertility, and endometrial
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
The kidneys are amazing organs that filter waste from the bloodstream and
keep the body chemically balanced. If waste is not properly filtered, it can
collect in the blood and can affect almost every system in the body.
kidney disease occurs when the kidney's filtering capacity becomes
permanently damaged. Deterioration of this capacity can happen within months or
within decades. Fortunately, the body is able to live with some diminished
kidney function, or with just one kidney.