Mystery Diagnosis TV Poster Image

Mystery Diagnosis



Patients search for answers to vexing questions.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Doctors and patients search for answers to medical questions.


Threats to health from unknown causes. Close-up shots of blood being drawn.


Depends on the episode, but some deal with fertility-related issues/topics.


One episode contained a bleeped use of "s--t." Language is generally very tame.


Doctors' affiliations are listed -- Kaiser, for example.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Discussion of medications, images of pills.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this series deals with real people who have faced serious illnesses. Patients and family members tell their stories directly to the camera, which makes their emotional tales quite affecting. Photos and video footage of affected children and other family members can also easily bring on tears. Some stories might create an unrealistic fear of harmless symptoms. Topics include infants who fail to grow, women who have trouble conceiving, elderly men who suddenly go blind, and many more.

What's the story?

Documentary-style series MYSTERY DIAGNOSIS tells the stories of families' struggles with undiagnosed illnesses. Through one-on-one interviews with patients, family members, and health professionals -- as well as home video, photos, and brief re-enactments -- tales of painful, vexing, and emotionally draining medical problems emerge. For example, one episode told the story of adopted twin Joey, who ate more vigorously than his brother, often vomited, cried and woke constantly, and eventually stopped growing. Despite many pediatrician visits, the boys' parents never received any helpful explanations for their son's mysterious symptoms. But finally, after seeing yet another pediatrician and consulting specialists, the family learns that Joey has a rare kidney problem that's affecting his body's ability to retain nutrients and also causing his excess thirst, urination, cravings for salt, and light sensitivity.

Is it any good?


With each story told as an unfolding mystery and accompanied by emotionally charged issues of life and death, Mystery Diagnosis is compelling -- if not original -- television. While it's rated TV-G, sensitive kids may find the threat of painful illness and/or eventual death too much to bear. (One featured patient stokes potential anxiety by asking: How many people are walking around out there with an undiagnosed illness?)

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about doctors. How are doctors typically portrayed on TV and in other media? Does that match how they're shown on this show? In general, what do you think of doctors and the health care system? What kind of expectations do you have for them? Other than doctors, who or what helps you stay healthy? What can you do to feel in control of their health?

TV details

Premiere date:March 7, 2005
Networks:Discovery Channel, Discovery Health Channel
Genre:Reality TV
Topics:Science and nature
TV rating:TV-G

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Educator and Parent Written byCommonSenseChristian December 31, 2012

Diagnosis: Proceed, with Background Knowledge First

This show helped me somewhat conquer my fear of the medical profession and serious illness, and it could help others, too. For the most part, the patients come out okay, and have learned to be their own advocates. Dedicated members of the medical profession are also highlighted. That said, this show is not for children or preteens by any means. Descriptions of illness can be scary for that age group and may plant a seed of worry that innocuous symptoms will always turn into trips to the hospital and near-death experiences. Some scenes show medical machines, blood draws, and other frightening images, and some patients, while they have survived, do have visible disabling affects. (This is a good way for parents to discuss empathetic response to disability, but may also instill fear in young kids). Also, this show could cause younger kids to lose faith that their doctors usually are able to diagnose or treat them properly. As a final note, out of frustration, some guests will indulge in profanity (d---, s---) occasionally when telling their stories. Watch only if you are an adult who enjoys good medical drama.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Kid, 8 years old December 20, 2010


I LOVE THIS SHOW, but I don,t like how sometimes they show what there operating on!
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 14 years old Written byAlinaW. July 8, 2010

Intresting and entertaining, but viewers beware for mild freak-outs!

I really like this show even though I HATE doctor related shows, and I can't figure out why! Maybe it's the appeal of people being strong and smart enough to figure out their illnesses themselves, or maybe it's learning about new dieseses and trying to figure them out before they're revealed! Either way, this is an awesome show my mom, sister, and I are addicted to, but viewers beware, watching too many episodes may make the healthiest person feel ill with thoughts like "OMG! I have light sensativity" or something like that. It's a great show, but really, the dieseses portraied on here are one in a million, chances are you're probably NOT going to get lischnien syndrome or whatever that person has.


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