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I agree that self-educated patients need to understand that their ability to diagnose and treat themselves is limited. Doctors have extensive training and experience that us self-educated people don't. A self-educated patient who doesn't understand this could be very annoying, and is also a frequent experience for doctors.
However, I've found that doctors are often VERY fallible. They have an authority that sometimes we don't question enough.
Some examples: I was mysteriously sick with a chronic bleary state, literally for years. I consulted a couple allergists because my best guess for the cause was allergies, although I'd also gotten extensive medical tests for non-allergy causes from my family doctor, and I'd spent a year hoping the problem would be fixed if only I normalized my thyroid levels - it wasn't.
The two allergists told me rather similar things. They both were skeptical it was allergies, told me to check nutrient deficiencies, insisted it might be a thyroid problem, etc.
It WAS allergies. I had thought so because it started with vague sinusitis symptoms. I had a terrible time finding out what allergen because there were multiple causes. First, I noticed I seemed to feel particularly awful right after certain meals. I found that a couple of my grain mills had mold in them.
Having solved the mold in my food part of the problem, I was able to diagnose the rest of it. I went to a motel to get away from the air in my house. And I got well after a week! SO, it was some kind of allergy.
Then, I went to the SPCA and cuddled dogs for 4 hours. I got very sick and I had histamine symptoms. Since I have a dog, I now knew that my dog allergy was most likely the cause for my chronic bleariness.
One of the allergists had EMPHATICALLY assured me that my dog allergy was too mild to affect me so badly. He was flat wrong.
Here's another example: Years ago I had a boyfriend who was kind of crazy (diagnosed schizophrenic), who loved Canadian hard (high-gluten) wheat, who had a lot of stomach problems, skin irritation, a subtly deformed looking face, and was rather short. I would make him meals that didn't have gluten, and he would slip off and get something to eat, which would always have gluten. I kept on telling him to get checked for celiac disease, and he did get blood tests for it, and he did have it! He had told doctors at the VA many times about his digestive problems, but none of them had suspected celiac disease. But I was around him so I could notice all sorts of symptoms that formed a pattern suggestive of celiac disease.
I found for myself that when I stopped eating gluten/dairy, as well as a multitude of other foods that made me sick after an elimination diet, I went through incredible psychological changes, as well as relief from many physical symptoms. With that, I can't really charge doctors with being wrong, because I wasn't complaining to the doctors about psychological symptoms. I did bring up a lot of physical symptoms of the food sensitivities, that were always misdiagnosed.
This area of allergies and food sensitivities is one where self-help is especially important. I've tended to believe too much in doctors, actually! It's not even a matter of being empowered around doctors, it's an area where I've had to be my own doctor.
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