Why is kidney disease often misdiagnosed?

Kidney disease may be misdiagnosed to due missing symptoms, attributing symptoms to a different illness and ignoring a change in age.

When Florida residents head to the doctor's office, they expect to get answers about what is ailing them. Kidney disease, which often leads to kidney failure if left untreated, affects approximately 14 percent of the nation's population according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. More than 661,000 people in the country suffer from kidney failure. The disease killed over 47,000 citizens in a single year. There are five stages of the disease, but most patients are not diagnosed until they reach stage three or later.

Has few early symptoms

Kidney disease is often referred to as the silent disease because of the minimal symptoms the early stages of the ailment have. Stage one, for example, may only be noticeable due to higher-than-normal amounts of protein in the urine, but doctors do not always look for that. Besides that, the kidneys tend to work as they should. Stage two has a similar lack of symptoms, but the kidneys may have already started to perform their functions a little more poorly than normal.

Miss early symptoms

Kidney disease is known as a silent killer due to its lack of physical symptoms. Laboratory symptoms are often the only warning signs. The symptoms that do present themselves often get overlooked, attributed to another health issue or missed entirely. If a patient starts to use the toilet more or less often, he or she could be showing signs of early kidney disease. However, doctors often look to other issues before looking to the kidneys. Other potentially looked-over symptoms include the following:

  • Protein in the urine
  • Blood in urine
  • High levels of Creatinine in the blood
  • Side or back pain
  • Dark urine
  • Lack of appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Fluid retention

Even though kidney disease is fairly prevalent, doctors may not pin these fairly common symptoms to the dangerous organ failure.

Ignore changes due to age

While many patients have a missed kidney disease diagnosis even though their organs are starting to fail, there may be some who are diagnosed with the illness even though they do not have it. According to the New York Times, about 50 percent of people older than 70 have a glomerular filtration rate, which measures how well the kidneys filter waste from blood, of 60. According to international standards, a GFR lower than 60 is a marker of kidney damage. However, one thing people forget is that a person's body starts to function less efficiently as they age. In other words, this lower GFR may be solely tied to an aging body rather than a disease.

Florida patients should be able to trust the diagnosis their doctors make, but due to a history of misdiagnosis there may be some worry that symptoms are attributed to the wrong illness. If an ailment is misdiagnosed, it may be beneficial to work with an attorney who is familiar with this type of medical malpractice case.