Not only do some illnesses present differently with time, but the signs and symptoms of many of them actually start to mimic each other, making a correct diagnosis more difficult.
Here are five commonly misdiagnosed or overlooked conditions in people 50 and older along with their signs and symptoms to help guide your discussion with your doctor:
1. Urinary Tract Infection
Believe it or not, some of the more commonly noted signs of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia — like confusion, agitation and withdrawal — may also be present in older adults with a urinary tract infection (UTI). In addition, UTIs can exacerbate symptoms like confusion and irritability in people who already have dementia.
And, just as with other age groups, women are much more likely to get a urinary tract infection than men (mainly because women have a shorter urethra, which makes it easier for bacteria to travel into the bladder). However, these dementia-like signs tend to appear more suddenly in people with UTIs, while true dementia is more likely to appear gradually.
Delirium is also commonly mistaken for dementia. Unlike dementia, delirium is normally caused by some illness or condition you may already have; scientists generally agree that disruption or blockage in brain signaling is most likely responsible for dementia. Certain drugs — like benzodiazepines and older antidepressants — can increase confusion and reduce cognition. Hormonal disorders, nutritional deficiencies, anemia, infections, alcoholism and even atherosclerosis are just a few examples of other underlying conditions that can alter one’s mental state.
Click on the above link to see the three other common minsdiagnosises:
3. Essential tremor
The bottom line: We sometimes overlook warning signs from our bodies that something may be wrong. Try to listen to your body, paying close attention to any unusual changes you may notice. Never be afraid to talk to your doctor, and don’t hesitate to follow up if your symptoms haven’t improved after a reasonable amount of time or if something still “just doesn’t feel right.”