Avoid misdiagnosis: When to get a second opinion

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.(WOOD) — If you start to feel under the weather, you might think it’s nothing — just a little sinus infection. Your doctor might agree. But there are times when getting another doctor’s opinion could save your life.

Doctors in Louisiana reportedly told James Smith he was suffering from a sinus infection at the end of 2018. In January, they told him he had a rare form of cancer that would likely claim his life within a month, according to WWL-TV out of New Orleans. He’s still fighting.

A Las Vegas woman’s story, shared with Media Drum World, has a similar theme. She claims she made three visits to doctors, complaining of a persistent cough. It wasn’t until her fourth visit that doctors diagnosed her with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“As a patient, you’re your best advocate,” said Elizabeth Suing, physician’s assistant and lead provider at Spectrum Health’s MedNow telemedicine program in Grand Rapids. “So make sure that you follow up and make sure that they (doctors) are hearing what you’re saying.”

She explained that it’s still peak season for sinus infections, common colds and the flu. Most symptoms, she said, last about seven to 10 days.

“If you’re not getting better or it’s getting worse or persisting, then I wouldn’t give up (on seeking medical attention). It’s your life. This is your life and it’s delicate,” she told 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday.

Suing told 24 Hour News 8 that it’s best for patients to go with their gut, especially if two weeks pass without relief.

“I don’t necessarily think that you need to go to a CAT scan right away. I think that’s probably a little bit overkill,” Suing said.

She explained that around this time of the year, the problem is usually a viral infection. She recommends making a MedNow appointment or buying over-the-counter medicines like Sudafed or Flonase. Doctors can subscribe antibiotics for bacterial sinus infections.

“There’s a lot of guidelines on what is effective what is not effective,” Suing said. “Z-Paks (antibiotics) are quite resistant to sinus infections at this point. So unless you have another reason for a Z-Pak or some sort of allergy, it really shouldn’t be given for sinus infections.”

Recommendations may be different if patients suffer from high blood pressure or other health issues. It’s recommended to always consult a doctor.

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