Diagnosing Munchausen's syndrome can be challenging for medical professionals.
People with the syndrome are often very convincing and skilled at manipulating and exploiting doctors.
If a healthcare professional suspects a person may have Munchausen's syndrome, they'll look at the person's health records. This is to check for inconsistencies between their claimed and actual medical history.
Healthcare professionals can also run tests to check for evidence of self-inflicted illness or tampering with clinical tests. For example, the person's blood can be checked for traces of medicine they should not be taking but which could explain their symptoms.
Doctors will also want to rule out other possible motivations for their behaviour. For example, faking illness for financial gain or because they want access to strong painkillers.
Munchausen's syndrome can usually be diagnosed if:
- there's clear evidence of fabricating or inducing symptoms
- the person's main motivation is to be seen as sick
- there's no other likely reason or explanation for their behaviour
Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE