The Most Commonly Misdiagnosed Medical Conditions In Older Adults

Commonly Misdiagnosed Conditions In Older Adults

The natural process of aging can produce many changes in a person’s body that can sometimes result in misdiagnosed medical conditions. Normal changes can often be mistaken for an actual illness, making it tough to pinpoint the difference between a real problem and something that is a normal part of getting older. The problem for many seniors comes when the diagnosis is wrong, resulting in further illness and medical complications.

In some cases, misdiagnosis can cause severe problems and even death. If you believe that you or a loved one suffered because they were misdiagnosed, it’s important to learn the dangers of malpractice and ask professional experts to assist you with your case. Listen to your body and don’t be afraid to get a second opinion when your prescribed treatment just isn’t working. Talk to your doctor about any problems you are having and your suspicions that you may need to take another look at the problem. Let’s take a look at some of the most commonly misdiagnosed medical conditions in older adults.

Common Misdiagnosed Medical Conditions in Older Adults

Urinary Tract Infection

It is common for people who have urinary tract infections to show signs that are often confused with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Confusion, irritability, and trouble with short term memory can accompany this type of infection. Since doctors who are treating elderly patients are constantly on the lookout for signs of cognitive decline, these basic symptoms may be misdiagnosed as a larger problem like dementia. 

The thing to remember is that both dementia and Alzheimers take time to progress, and symptoms are generally slow to materialize. If you are suddenly having issues with confusion or memory, you may want to be checked for a urinary tract infection by your doctor.


Severe headaches that are accompanied by an aura or spots that are indicators of a stroke can commonly be misdiagnosed as a migraine. For those that have high blood pressure or cholesterol, this can be a real problem. Although migraines are extremely painful and can cause a variety of symptoms like confusion, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light, they are not the same as having a stroke. Signs of a stroke include confusion, difficulty speaking, and tingling in your hands or feet. 

Essential Tremor

There are quite a few issues in seniors that can cause tremors in the body that go beyond the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Dehydration, medication side effects, and high potassium levels are common causes of tremors. The symptoms of essential tremors differ slightly from those of Parkinson’s.

An essential tremor will affect body parts of both sides of the body. For example, if you have tremors in your hands and feet it will be on both the left and the right side. Parkinson’s tremors generally only start on one side of the body and can later spread to the other.

Misdiagnosed Medical Conditions— How to Prevent Misdiagnosis

It’s easy to overlook some of the warning signs in our own bodies that can result in waiting too long to see a doctor. Listen to your body and trust what it is telling you.

To ensure you’re getting the right diagnosis from a specialist or doctor, know your medical history. Some diseases, including the misdiagnosed medical conditions, have a genetic component so it would help to go through your family tree and identify the conditions that run through it. When you visit your doctor, it would also be best to give a detailed description of each of your symptoms. Be specific as you can.

Keep in mind that doctors can make diagnostic mistakes, even the most experienced and competent ones. If you are concerned about a misdiagnosis, your first step should be to get a second opinion and make your health a priority.