Assuming that you are not a medical doctor, it is generally ill-advised to attempt to diagnose your own medical conditions. While it is inarguably important to remain educated on medicine and new advancements in science and research, most people are not qualified to perform self-diagnosis. There are many reasons why. Here are three main ones:
1) A lack of access to diagnostic testing. To make appropriate medical diagnoses for most conditions or diseases, testing is required. This may include specialized medical examinations, targeted bloodwork, and/or access to advanced equipment such as X-ray machines, CT scans (computerized tomography), and MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging). X-ray machines create images of internal organs or bones to help diagnose conditions or injuries. CT scans are diagnostic imaging exams that use X-ray technology to produce images of the inside of the body. And MRIs are used in radiology to form pictures of the anatomy and the physiological processes of the body. Each test requires someone who is sufficiently trained and has attended an accredited educational program deemed appropriate to perform the tests. Often, specially trained doctors, such as radiologists, will read test results.
2) A lack of proper education. While reading informational articles and visiting valuable medical resource websites on the computer is an excellent way to learn some medical basics, doctors do not gain expertise by reading materials they simply come across on the web. In fact, much of the material we read might not be scientifically accurate or may be misleading. Truth be told, physicians devote years and years of their lives to professional education and work hands-on in their chosen field of medicine. Doctors must complete four-year undergraduate programs, along with another four years of medical school. Then, they must spend three to seven years more in a residency program to hone in on their specialty. The bottom line is that it is truly risky for the average Joe to assume they know as much as a medical doctor.
3) Medical diagnoses are NOT simple. Many illnesses, diseases, and conditions have symptoms that are confusing or may overlap or mimic other diseases. And some are challenging to diagnose. Parkinson’s Disease, defined as a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, has no single lab or imaging test that is recommended or definitive for diagnosis of the Disease. Thus, neurologists with expertise in movement disorders must rely on a series of tests and clinical evaluations to diagnose patients. Sometimes, patient symptoms may be puzzling. Thus, some conditions take time and expertise to diagnose.
While it’s good to learn about the human body and science and medicine, self-diagnosing without proper equipment, without the appropriate educational background, and without a full understanding of the huge scope of medical conditions can lead to incorrect and dangerous conclusions. Since the risks of making mistakes are simply too great, it’s ill-advised for the average person to self-diagnose. Instead, seek the help of medical professionals who are not only experts in their fields but are there to help you.
Tips: Always go to appointments prepared with a list of questions and concerns to discuss with your doctor. Bring a notebook for note-taking. Should you have questions about medical topics related to your health or wish to ask them about something you read or heard about that may benefit you, be sure to openly dialogue with your physician.
This article is purely informational and is not intended as medical information or advice.