Kidney disease is a serious medical condition that can have severe consequences if untreated. Unfortunately, it is often misdiagnosed, leading to delayed treatment and potential complications.
Several factors contribute to the frequent misdiagnosis of kidney disease.
Few early-stage symptoms
Many people with kidney disease do not notice symptoms until the condition has advanced significantly. This lack of early warning signs can result in delayed diagnosis and intervention.
Common symptoms of kidney disease, such as fatigue, swelling and urinary changes, can result from many different health concerns. Healthcare providers may attribute these issues to a different condition. They may also treat the symptoms without considering kidney disease as a potential cause.
Lack of routine screening
Routine screenings for kidney disease are relatively uncommon compared to health conditions like diabetes and hypertension. As a result, it may go undetected until it reaches an advanced stage or causes severe complications. Early detection through routine screenings can reduce the risk of misdiagnosis.
Limited risk awareness
Both patients and healthcare providers may be unfamiliar with kidney disease risk factors. Diabetes, high blood pressure and a family history of kidney disease increase the likelihood of developing kidney problems. Some physicians may overlook these risks during diagnosis.
Complex diagnosis process
Diagnosing kidney disease often involves blood and urine tests, imaging studies and biopsies. Misinterpretation of results and failure to conduct the appropriate tests contribute to misdiagnosis.
Additionally, some healthcare providers may have limited experience diagnosing kidney disease. Patients may not receive prompt referrals from primary care providers to nephrologists, who specialize in kidney health. This delay can also prolong the diagnostic process.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 1 in 7 Americans has chronic kidney disease. You can reduce your risk of missed or incorrect diagnosis of this condition. Track your symptoms and communicate them to your doctor. Seek a second opinion if your healthcare provider does not address your concerns.