Most Commonly Misdiagnosed Symptoms

Chest pain, nausea, abdominal discomfort and fatigue are common symptoms that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. In many cases, these symptoms are just transitory and are of no cause for concern. However, in some cases, they could signal a serious health condition that warrants emergency care such as a heart attack or stroke. Since certain symptoms may appear across many different diseases, it is not uncommon for doctors to misdiagnose a patient with a minor condition when the condition is much more serious. Below are a few of the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions.


Lupus is a chronic disease that causes inflammation triggered by the immune system. This disorder causes the immune system to attack important organs such as the brain and heart, as well as joints and tissue. According to WebMD, this chronic disease currently affects approximately 1.5 million Americans. Symptoms of Lupus include fatigue, rash, joint pain, chest pain, dry eyes, shortness of breath and skin lesions (after sun exposure). Lupus is often misdiagnosed as fatigue, fibromyalgia or allergies.

Heart Attack

According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, 1.2 million Americans suffer heart attacks each year. In some cases the person can be treated, but due to self-diagnosis or misdiagnosis in medical facilities, many die from the condition. A heart attack occurs as a result of a blockage in the arteries that delivers blood to the heart. This causes a severe spasm that disrupts blood flow to and from the heart. Symptoms of a heart attack include: chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, fatigue and cold sweats. Some people with heart attack symptoms may be misdiagnosed as having anxiety or panic attacks, indigestion or heartburn.


Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that has no direct cause. This being the case, it is often misdiagnosed as minor conditions such as typical joint or muscle pain or fatigue. Several tests must be administered in order to determine if a person has the condition — it cannot be ruled out upon physical examination alone. Symptoms of fibromyalgia include: chronic pain in the muscles or joints, inflammation and fatigue.


Since several screening tests are required to determine whether a person has cancer, it is considered to be one of the most evasive conditions to-date according to AARP. The symptoms of cancer range from chronic fatigue and joint pain to nausea and light-headedness, to cases where there are no symptoms at all. Cancer is often misdiagnosed as several minor conditions due to its gradual onset and commonly experienced symptoms.

Although the above conditions are quite severe, there are less severe conditions that can be easily misdiagnosed. When these lesser conditions go undetected, they may become severe over time. This is the case with conditions such as bronchitis, pneumonia and food allergies.