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Perspective: We're all different. So why doesn't medicine recognize that?

Haley Lawrence

I rarely think about the symptoms and signs of different sicknesses and diseases, but doctors do. It wasn’t until I saw a post online about a black med student creating a book about how different illnesses look on black skin tones that I realized how little people know about these disparities.

Most doctors are taught how illnesses look on white men. There are many small, yet deadly differences from the ‘typical’ diagnosis of a disease. Most symptoms for a heart attack are different in women then they are in men. Symptoms for mental illnesses often look different in women. Skin conditions look completely different on white skin than they do on black skin. Certain races are more likely to get specific diseases than others. The list continues.

But the racism and sexism ingrained into the medical community doesn’t need to continue. All other healthcare professionals need to be taught the differences in these diseases between sexes and races. And if there is no information present about these differences, they need to be studied. People’s symptoms often go ignored because they don’t fit what is ‘normal’ about the disease or illness, and this ignoring causes these people to go undiagnosed and untreated, sometimes costing people their lives.

While there is already a push within the medical community for this, it needs to be more public and present in the media, to inform more people about this ongoing problem.

I’m Kelsey Cunningham and that’s my perspective.

Born and raised in Rockford, Kelsey Cunningham is a student at Northern Illinois University, pursuing her degree in Spanish Language and Culture. In her free time, she plays a lot of online games with her friends and takes care of her four cats.
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