People tend to assume the worst. They almost expect it, even. They're also curious and busy. So when you start to feel pain or just otherwise feel "off", you might take to the internet for an explanation, hoping to find out if it's nothing to worry about or if you should make some time in your schedule for an appointment with your doctor. It's easy to get a little bit concerned and want to talk to a professional when faced with weird symptoms and scary diagnoses, but there are some trendy health issues doctors are tired of hearing about that you probably shouldn't just automatically assume that you have until you know for sure.
When medical conditions get attention in the news or on the internet, they start to become more popular topics of conversation between some people and their doctors, as well. And while, it's true, you probably haven't contracted the Ebola virus if you've never been to a place where there's an outbreak and haven't come into contact with anyone who has, it can be understandable why you'd bring it up if you thought you were showing symptoms that could be Ebola, but could also be a myriad of other things. See, when people are faced with unknowns that are scary — like potentially fatal diseases — they tend to either ignore them entirely or desperately wish to be reassured that it's a non-issue. That being said, some conditions, some potentially life-threatening, some not, are brought up so often (and without merit) that it makes doctors tired to hear about them. If you have reason to think you might have a serious condition, then by all means, of course, talk to your doctor about it, but if you're freaking out over what's very likely nothing, just know that some doctors are tired of hearing about it.
Have you heard of "adrenal fatigue?" Do you think you might have it? Well, as it turns out, the chances of that are pretty low because, according to Dr. Ralph Esposito, a naturopathic physician and licensed acupuncturist, it's not a real diagnosis. "This is a term used very frequently, giving the impression that the adrenal glands are non-functioning. [T]here are conditions like Addison's, Conns and Cushing’s where the adrenal glands are hypo or hyper-functioning," Esposito tells Romper by email. "When people become over-worked, lack sleep, poor eaters, and are deficient in certain nutrients they experience issues like low libido, low testosterone, fatigue and menstrual irregularities, which they then blame on adrenal fatigue. What it really is, is a poor communication between the hypothalamus and the adrenal glands. So it's not really the adrenals but it's the whole axis."
If you've ever had a headache and searched online and discovered that you "may have" a brain tumor, you're definitely not alone. "[I]f you think about it, how many of us have headaches? Everybody has a headache at least, if not once a month, once a year, but seven billion people on the planet and everyone has a brain tumor," Dr. Segun Ishmael, medical director at Paris Community Hospital, an emergency room doctor, and founder and chief medical officer of besafemeds, says. "That’s because then they go online and then they say, ‘hey, I have a headache, I’m a little dizzy, my ears are aching,’ so then they put all of that together: ‘I have a brain tumor.’ The problem is, how do you convince this individual they don’t have a brain tumor."
The doctor might do some tests just in case if you're extremely insistent, but you probably do not have a brain tumor.
Nowadays, it seems like everybody has a "gluten sensitivity" and everyone is trying out going gluten-free. Because sensitivities and intolerances aren't always taken as seriously as an actual diagnosis (even if they maybe should be), you'll hear some people using stronger language, convinced they have a condition like celiac disease even if they've never received a diagnosis. Just because you feel better when you're not eating gluten doesn't mean you have an actual condition, so it's important to closely monitor any symptoms.
“People who are sensitive to gluten may feel better, but a larger portion will derive no significant benefit from the practice," Dr. Daniel A. Leffler, director of clinical research at the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, told Harvard Health Blog. "They’ll simply waste their money, because these products are expensive."
If you're dealing with gastrointestinal issues and other symptoms, it might be worth asking your doctor if eliminating gluten might help alleviate those symptoms, but for most people, there's no need to do so.
Chest pain doesn't necessarily mean that you're having a heart attack. "Now, classically, most people under the age of 45, 50, probably don’t have a heart attack, but they’re worried, they’re like, ‘I think I’m having a heart attack, I have chest pain,'" Ishmael says. According to Ishmael, it's more likely that you're experiencing stress and anxiety than that you're having a heart attack. Again, if you have other symptoms, or you have a family or medical history that might make you unsure and think it actually is a heart attack, seeing a doctor will help you know for sure and, hopefully, keep you safe.
Ishmael says that, when you're young, it's also not likely that you're having or have had a stroke. When a patient, especially a young patient, comes in thinking that they've had a stroke, Ishmael asks more questions to see if they have more than one symptom, which he also does when people think they have brain tumors. Young people can have strokes, however, so, again, if you have a family or medical history that would make you concerned or if you have other symptoms, it might still be safest to seek medical attention.
Can you have chronic pain due to a condition? Of course. But, according to Ishmael, an ER doctor, many ER doctors continually hear about the need for chronic pain management from those who probably aren't dealing with actual pain.
"A lot of people complain about pain that doesn’t make anatomic sense," he says. "Now, can I say somebody doesn’t have pain? No, I truly cannot, because, once again, it’s subjective. Your pain is not my pain. However, the extent of your pain and, I’m looking at your vital signs, your heart rate isn’t fast, because if you’re having pain, your heart rate should be at least a little faster than usual, your blood pressure may go up a little bit, and you’re calm and really cool and collected here and you’re telling me you have severe pain?"
In these cases, people are often either over-exaggerating their pain levels or, frankly, looking for a prescription for pain medication, which can be highly-addictive. You might truly have pain, but you also might be misrepresenting that pain when speaking with a doctor.
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