A real-life doctor reveals what medical moment got wrong when Sheldon convinces himself he has contracted a mysterious illness. The sitcom, which follows a group of four genius friends living in Pasadena, featured reasonably accurate descriptions of scientific concepts. While it sometimes embellished the factual validity for comedic purposes, did a relatively good job of providing real explanations of complex scientific ideas.
Recently, reacted to the medical accuracy in , including . He soon fact-checks the medical accuracy of Sheldon's examination done by Dr. Stephanie Barnett in season 2, episode 10, "The Vartabedian Conundrum." Doctor Mike explains what could be wrong with Sheldon, based on his symptoms, and how the check-up features an inaccurate examination done by the physician. As he reveals, a real physician is unlikely to see Sheldon's larynx without a special tool. Read the quote below:
That could be tinnitus where you hear, most people describe it as ringing in their ears, but other people call it a drum, a weird sound, and it can happen for a whole host of reasons. What I've been seeing an uptick of in my office is younger people coming in who have sensorineural hearing loss from damage to their hearing from listening to music too loud, and when damage your hearing you actually end up developing tinnitus. But, there's also a whole host of other options there...Inflammation in the tympanic membrane or in the inner ear canal really just rules out infectious causes by bacteria. There still could be other things going on, there's viral causes there's non-infectious causes, so you gotta really be careful.Yeah, cause you're taking it yourself, and you're not resting, and your feet aren't flat on the floor...What symptom is he having that he's requesting all these tests? Like those tests are not even routinely done together, let alone in one patient. First of all, there's no shot she sees his larynx that is ridiculous she means his pharynx. The larynx is the voice box, and it's much further back. In order to visualize that, you're gonna need a fiber optic scope to go inside the nose and actually go past the pharynx. There are conditions when someone's vocal cords are inflamed, and we do encourage voice rest, especially post-procedural stuff. And by the way, in instances where your voice box is very inflamed, whispering people think will be easier on the voice box. That's actually more difficult for the voice box and provides more stress and damage to the area.
Although got Dr. Barnett's medical examination wrong, the episode highlights Sheldon's hypochondria. While creators did not purposely conceive of Sheldon's character having a specific neurological condition, many viewers attributed his personality traits to autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder. One such characteristic is having an extreme phobia of certain things, with one of his being germs, and an overall extreme concern for his health. Although Sheldon's fears are calmed by Dr. Barnett, the episode allows audiences to see his struggles in action.
Sheldon's visit with Stephanie was also the catalyst that ended her and Leonard's relationship in . The episode begins with her moving into Sheldon and Leonard's apartment without Leonard realizing it. Soon, Sheldon's hypochondria kicks into high gear. He sees her as a roommate, takes advantage of living with a doctor, and asks for a plethora of medical tests to be done. When he shares his doctor's visit with Leonard and the reasoning behind why he believed it was normal, Leonard finally realizes Stephanie has indeed moved in and wants to take the relationship down a notch.
Leonard's realization leads him to ask Penny for advice on stepping back from their relationship without ending it. Although Sheldon's interaction with Stephanie is brief, Leonard evaluates his own feelings about the relationship moving too fast. He also grows closer to Penny, leaning on her as he asks for advice. Stephanie is never seen again after this episode, insinuating that the two broke up. While never confirmed the break-up, this episode revealed Leonard's reluctance in the short-lived relationship.