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Elemental
Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

Diagnosis

In Elemental. More on Medium.

What you need to know when the slightest sniffle can be more frightening than ever

A photo of a baby covering his face with tissues that he’s taken out of a tissue box.
A photo of a baby covering his face with tissues that he’s taken out of a tissue box.
Photo: Cavan Images/Getty Images

Every year about this time, cold and flu season starts to wind down just as seasonal allergies begin ramping up, starting in warmer regions and moving northward as spring unfolds. People with pollen allergies — about 8% of U.S. adults — go through a yearly ritual of being unsure what they’ve got until several boxes of empty tissues and red, itchy eyes bring on the aha moment.


The signs were there growing up, so why was it so difficult to spot my symptoms?

Photo by @khaparazzi from nappy.co

I knew something was desperately wrong with my memory the morning I forgot to attend the first day of classes in my second year of grad school.


Even specialists often struggle to make sense of the puzzling symptoms that come with these slow-moving disorders

A close up of a woman’s arms and hands with vitiligo.
A close up of a woman’s arms and hands with vitiligo.
Photo: MarijaRadovic/E+/Getty

The patient came to her doctor with a low-grade fever, some achiness and fatigue, and a touch of diarrhea. The doctor told her it was probably a mild case of the flu. But weeks later the symptoms hadn’t gone away. The doctor ran some lab tests, but the results didn’t clearly indicate any problems, and he insisted there didn’t seem to be anything physically wrong with her. Still feeling off, she eventually saw other doctors. Yet over years of continuing and even slowly worsening symptoms, none of these doctors were able to tell her what was wrong. …

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