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7 Commonly Misdiagnosed Illnesses

Know the symptoms and what to do about them

En español | Feeling fatigued? It could be fibromyalgia or lupus.

Suffering from abdominal pain and weight loss? You could have cystic fibrosis or celiac disease.

Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter.

Doctors examine an x-ray

Some illnesses and conditions are tricky to diagnose. — Photo by Ocean/Corbis

Many Americans suffer from illnesses that are difficult to diagnose (see "Misdiagnosed: What to Do When Your Doctor Doesn't Know"). We reveal seven ailments that give doctors trouble, identify their symptoms and tell you how to get help if you think you have one.

1. Lupus

A chronic inflammatory disease

Symptoms: Fatigue; kidney, heart, and lung damage; rash; joint pain

Mimics: Chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis

Tests: Complete blood count to assess presence of anemia and a decreased white blood cell count; chest X-ray that may show pleurisy or lupus-related pneumonia; anti-double-stranded DNA test (anti-dsDNA), currently the most specific test for lupus; ANA and lupus erythematosus cell tests, which may show positive results in active lupus.

Next: Parkinson's disease. »

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AARP's David Certner discusses Medicare and fiscal cliff on NBC. Increasing the eligibility age could cost you — and others.

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