Differential Diagnosis

Once a condition is established as self-diagnosable, a related consideration is the differential diagnosis—the potential consequence of confusing the disease with other similarly presenting ones, possibly resulting in a major delay in treatment. This consideration can often be a dominant factor in determining whether a condition is safely self-treatable. In conditions where minimal consequences are likely from a misdiagnosis, a modest level of diagnostic inaccuracy is tolerable to obtain the benefits of self-medication. If the major downside of misdiagnosis is simply the persistence or modest worsening of symptoms without serious health consequences, even more difficult self-diagnoses may reasonable. However, it is usually wise to place a time limit on the length of self-treatment without a satisfactory response.

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