A recent study found that when a doctor asks, "What brings you here today," you have an average of just 11 seconds to give your answer.
That's not a lot of time to explain your symptoms, especially when you're dealing with a chronic condition that's hard to notice.
So it's not a big surprise that many common diseases manage to fly under the radar, or get misdiagnosed.
Health experts and patient advocates say you shouldn't be afraid to get a second opinion if you're concerned about these conditions.
1. Hip disease
Hip conditions and injuries are common, especially as patients get older, so why are they hard to spot?
The problem is that a damaged hip joint often "passes" pain down to the knee.
It's not unheard of for patients to have surgery on their "bad knee" before learning it was fine all along.
Make sure a physical exam for knee pain includes an examination of your hip.
A hip joint that's swollen or clicks loudly as you walk is a red flag.
2. Lyme disease
But what if the rash never appears? That's more common than you might expect.
There are other Lyme disease symptoms, but many - fever, fatigue, joint pain - can be mistaken for the flu.
To make things worse, blood tests don't reveal the presence of Lyme disease for several weeks.
Learn the symptoms of Lyme disease, and schedule a test if you are bitten by a tick.
This disease's symptoms are famously vague, and for a long time many doctors were convinced it didn't actually exist.
The two symptoms nearly all fibromyalgia patients share are "diffuse" pain spread throughout a number of body parts, and chronic fatigue.
If you suspect you have fibromyalgia, being direct and specific with your doctor can help them diagnose you better.
Feeling too weak to walk through the grocery store is more than just "fatigue," and dull pain that strikes multiple parts of the body is more worrying than "all over" pain.
4. Sleep apnea
The fact is it's hard to tell what your body is doing while you're asleep.
Doctors believe that 90% of people suffer from some form of sleep apnea, usually just heavy snoring.
But you can actually stop breathing multiple times a night with a bad case of apnea.
In the worse scenarios, the interrupted sleep can leave you constantly fatigued, and increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Many people assume only overweight patients are at risk of this condition, but that's not true.
You can have your condition checked at a sleep clinic - but that may involve an overnight stay.
You can be permanently blinded if this condition gets too advanced, but most patients don't know what to watch for.
Glaucoma is damage to your eye from elevated pressure, and it's usually linked to aging.
The condition tends to creep in slowly, starting at the edge of your vision and moving in until damage is irreversible.
The best defense against glaucoma are regular eye exams, especially if you're in your 40s or older.
The most obvious cases of lupus are easy to spot: patients develop the signature "butterfly" facial scars that Seal is famous for.
Lupus marks are scaly, round, and usually have scars in the middle - but not always.
In some cases, the marks are out of sight (on your scalp, for instance) so look out for other autoimmune disease symptoms like shortness of breath and chronic dry eyes.
Women have more cause to be concerned about Lupus, because it strikes men much less often.
Who could miss a migraine? If you've had one you know you had one, right?
Migraines actually have such a wide range of effects that they're easily missed.
The typical migraine patient gets pain on one side of the head, nausea, and light sensitivity.
But some patients just get one of those symptoms, or get brain-wracking headaches that leave them feeling paralyzed.
It's also common for migraines to be misdiagnosed as stress or dehydration, or even sinus headaches.
Try and spot if one of these migraine triggers is causing your symptoms.
8. Bipolar disease
This brain disorder, sometimes still called manic depressive illness, causes alternating period of unnaturally cheery, bold moods and seriously depressed low moods.
In young children, it's often misdiagnosed as ADD/ADHD or a related condition.
The trouble is that many patients have difficult accurately describing what they're feeling to their doctor.
Study your family history, track your episodes, and compare the different types of bipolar conditions if you think you have this disease.
9. Celiac disease
Patients with this disease experience an immune reaction to grains like wheat and rye.
It was once considered very rare, affecting less than 1% of people, but the numbers of Celiac diagnoses are climbing fast.
It's said that the average patient spends six to 10 years trying to get the right diagnosis.
In the meantime, they experience uncomfortable gas and bloating, diarrhea, weight loss, itchy skin, koint pain, and even heartburn.
On the other hand, many patients stay symptom free for years until damage to their stomach surfaces.
A family history and a short trial on a gluten-free diet can nail down your diagnosis, which usually requires a small intestine biopsy.
10. Ovarian cancer
Doctors have already warned that not enough women know the symptoms of this deadly condition.
Even if they did, many women don't show any symptoms until their cancer is in the latest stages.
Bloating caused by ovarian tumors is easy to mistake for almost anything else, from regular water retention to IBS.
Take time to learn the symptoms of ovarian cancer, and if you notice them ask about a test ASAP.
Patients describe everything from constipation to dry skin, weight gain, thinning hair, and even memory loss.
Because this disease often strikes older patients, it's sometimes dismissed as the normal aches and pains of aging.
That's why it's important to recognize the signs and act quickly when you spot them.
Here are more helpful health articles:
- Scientists reverse wrinkles and hair loss with "unprecedented" breakthrough.
- How to recognize the signs of salmonella as nationwide recalls continue.
- Mom blames hot Cheetos for her daughter's gallbladder removal.