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Reasons why overdiagnosis is a problem

Some forms of incorrect medical diagnosis do not necessarily misdiagnose a problem. Sometimes a condition can actually be “overdiagnosed,” meaning that a California resident is diagnosed with a medical problem that is not as severe as the diagnosis suggests. Overdiagnosis can result in prescribed medical treatments that are not necessary and may even cause a person injury.

Several reasons exist that can help explain overdiagnosis. According to the Huffington Post, medical exams are so precise that they detect a so-called disease that may never actually harm a person or create sickness. For instance, a test may find a cancer that progresses so slowly that it will never make the person ill. Also, the shifting boundaries of what constitutes normal body functions can actually make many people appear to have abnormal health conditions when in reality their condition is not life threatening or harmful at all.

Sometimes physicians may mistake the regular process of aging for a symptom of a disorder or a disease. An individual who rises from bed and walks around at night might be incorrectly diagnosed with restless leg syndrome. Additionally, a male who believes he is more tired than he should be might be convinced that he has low levels of testosterone.

The consequences of overdiagnosis can include taking medical treatments that are not necessary and could even end up making the person feel worse or cause personal injury. A man who believes himself to have low testosterone may end up on prescription drugs that will claim to boost his testosterone levels. The website Rightdiagnosis points out that children may be incorrectly diagnosed as having ADHD, and the children may end up on Ritalin. Quite often, people may be diagnosed as having sinusitis when their sinus problems are merely the result of the common cold or the flu.

Additionally, an overdiagnosis may overlook another serious problem. For instance, older people are at times incorrectly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease when in reality they possess another mental disorder, one that may be treated differently than Alzheimer’s. Treating a person for one disease when they actually are afflicted with another disorder can cause great harm to that person's health.

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