You might want to argue with Kate Ashford’s article in Prevention magazine, but it’s fun to read. Quoting three physicians, she points out “Five Health Conditions That Don’t Really Exist”:
▪ Stomach flu: If you suffer from vomiting and diarrhea, it’s not influenza, says Jill Swartz, an urgent-care doctor in New York. The flu virus causes fever, congestion and sore throat. The stomach issues are probably from gastroenteritis, which is a different virus.
▪ Walking pneumonia: Even though doctors use the term, it’s “something of a catch-all rather than an exact diagnosis,” Swartz says, trotted out when you have a chronic cough and doctors can’t figure out why.
▪ Gluten allergy: Yes, gluten can make some people feel sick, but what’s going on is not an allergy. “Celiac disease . . . is an immune response to gluten, not an allergy like we think about a peanut allergy,” says allergist Janna Tuck. And you might just have a sensitivity, meaning you get bloating or pain when you ingest gluten.
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▪ Nervous breakdown: “When we get overwhelmed, we can feel like we are going to lose our minds, but we do not,” says Tamar Gur, a psychiatrist at Ohio State University. “People do not have mental breakdowns.” What they usually have is an episode of a particular condition (anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc.) that is treatable.
▪ Head cold: No different from any common cold. (The same goes for “chest cold.”) You’re just describing where you happen to notice the symptoms.