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Symptoms of diseases
Symptoms of diseases, and also signs, are the evidences of abnormal functioning of the human organism. In most cases, they are indicating a disease. Those 2 terms are often mistaken and used as a synonyms. One have to bear in mind, that symptoms are subjective and signs are objective. Single symptom or sign usually cannot determine one particular disease, but the combination of them restricts possible options. Obviously, they are crucial for establishing a proper diagnosis and each attribute of the disease is important for healthcare providers.
The difference between symptoms and signs
Those 2 terms are frequently used as a synonyms. However, the official definition and meaning are totally different. Symptoms of diseases are subjective, which means they can be observed or felt only by the patient. For instance, headache, fatigue, abdominal pain or weakness are one of the many possible symptoms. On the other hand, signs are objective, therefore they can be measured or noticed by other people or by a specialist. Cough, weight loss or blood cell count are the examples of signs. Particular attributes can be considered as both signs and symptoms. Fever or red eye can be noticed either by the patient or by a specialist.
Symptoms of diseases can be divided into 3 major categories:
- Chronic – those symptoms are present for a long period of time. In theory longer than 3 months. The most popular diseases characterized by chronic symptoms include cancer, asthma, diabetes or HIV/AIDS
- Relapsing – in other words they are recurrent, which means they were present in the past, then disappeared, and now are coming back. Multiple sclerosis and depression often result in such symptoms.
- Remitting – they are relieving over time, and at some point, those symptoms can even disappear.
What is more, there are also other minor categories that describe symptoms. One of them are cardinal symptoms, which ultimately lead to a proper diagnosis. Another of them are called as a presenting symptoms, also referred to as a chief complaints, and they describe the symptoms which forced the patient to go to the doctor. Whereas constitutional or general symptoms are known to be affecting entire organism.
What is interesting, in unusual cases, diseases can be asymptomatic. An abnormality exist in the organism, but the symptoms are not present. Those types of diseases will not be discovered if the patient do not go through medical tests. Such incidents are dangerous for patient’s general health, since many life-threatening disorders tend to be asymptomatic in early and middle stages.
Even though some signs might seem irrelevant for the case, they are still very important for the diagnosis process. Every sign is thoroughly gathered in order to make a complete list of possible diseases. In general, those signs, combined with symptoms, will point out for that one hunted disease.
Signs can be divided into 4 major categories:
- Prognostic signs – they are pointing for possible outcome for the patient, but do not predict specific disease.
- Anamnestic signs – those are the traces left by previous disease
- Diagnostic signs – they help to identify the disease, thus they determine diagnosis.
- Pathognomonic signs – unique signs which can be linked with one particular disease without any doubt.