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7 Commonly Misdiagnosed Illnesses

Know the symptoms and what to do about them

4. Lyme disease

A systemic infection caused by a tick bite

Symptoms: Shortness of breath; chest or rib soreness; abdominal cramping, nausea, and vomiting; bull's-eye rash at bite site; neck stiffness; twitching of face or eyelids

Deer Tick Lyme Disease Commonly Misdiagnosed Illnesses

Lyme disease is spread through a bite from an infected deer tick. — Photo by Custom Medical Stock Photo/Getty Images

Mimics: Mononucleosis, flu, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, depression, meningitis

Tests: If no rash is visible, a two-step blood antibody test is recommended: the ELISA or IFA blood test, followed by the more specific Western blot blood test.

5. Multiple sclerosis

A progressive autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system

Symptoms: Muscle spasms, lack of coordination, balance problems, blurred vision, cognitive impairment

Mimics: Viral infection, lupus, Alzheimer's, bipolar disorder

Tests: Blood tests to rule out other disorders, a lumbar puncture, and an MRI, which may show the brain and spinal cord damage and lesions characteristic of multiple sclerosis

Next: Celiac 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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