Sign vs Symptom

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Here is the Data from Wikipedia(NO NEED TO REMEMBER THIS AGAIN)

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Medical sign

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

medical sign is an objective[1] indication of some medical fact or characteristic that may be detected by a patient or anyone, especially a physician, before or during a physical examination of a patient. For example, whereas a tingling paresthesia is a symptom (only the person experiencing it can directly observe their own tingling feeling), erythema is a sign (anyone can confirm that the skin is redder than usual). Symptoms and signs are oftennonspecific, but often combinations of them are at least suggestive of certaindiagnoses, helping to narrow down what may be wrong. In other cases they are specific even to the point of being pathognomonic.
Some signs may have no meaning to the patient, and may even go unnoticed, but may be meaningful and significant to the healthcare provider in assisting diagnosis.Examples of signs include elevated blood pressure, a clubbing of the ends of fingers (which may be a sign of lung disease, or many other things), a staggering gait (human) and arcus senilis of the eyes.

The term sign is not to be confused with the term indication, which in medicine denotes a valid reason for using some treatment.

Signs and semiotics[edit]

The art of interpreting clinical signs was originally called semiotics (a term now used forthe study of sign communication in general) in English. This term, then written semeiotics(derived from the Greek adjective σημειωτικός: semeiotikos, “to do with signs”), was first used in English in 1670 by Henry Stubbes (1631–1676), to denote the branch of medical science relating to the interpretation of signs:

…nor is there any thing to be relied upon in Physick, but an exact knowledge of medicinal phisiology (founded on observation, not principles), semeiotics, method of curing, and tried (not excogitated, not commanding) medicines….[2]

Signs versus symptoms[edit]

Signs are different from symptoms, the subjective experiences, such as fatigue, that patients might report to their examining physician.

For convenience, signs are commonly distinguished from symptoms as follows: Both are something abnormal, relevant to a potential medical condition, but a symptom is experienced and reported by the patient, while a sign is discovered by the physician during examination or by a clinical scientist by means of an in vivo examination of the patient.[3]:75

A slightly different definition views signs as any indication of a medical condition that can be objectively observed (i.e., by someone other than the patient), whereas a symptom is merely any manifestation of a condition that is apparent to the patient (i.e., something consciously affecting the patient). From this definition, it can be said that an asymptomatic patient is uninhibited by disease. However, a doctor may discover the sign hypertension in an asymptomatic patient, who does not experience “dis-ease”, and the sign indicates a disease state that poses a hazard to the patient. With this set of definitions, there is some overlap – certain things may qualify as both a sign and a symptom (e.g., a bloody nose).

Lester S. King, author of Medical Thinking, argues that an “essential feature” of a sign is that there is both a sign [or “signifier”] and a “thing signified”. And, because “the essence of a sign is to convey information”, it can only be a sign, properly speaking, if it has meaning. Therefore, “a sign ceases to be a sign when you cannot read it”.[3]:73–74 A person, who has and exercises the knowledge required to understand the significance or indication or meaning of the sign, is necessary for something to be a complete sign. A physical phenomenon that is not actually interpreted as a sign pointing to something else is, in medicine, merely a symptom. Thus, King rejects “these present-day views [distinguishing signs from symptoms based on patient-subjective versus clinician-objective], however widely accepted, as quite faulty, at variance not only with ordinary usage but with the entire history of medicine.”[3]:77

“[A] symptom is a phenomenon, caused by an illness and observable directly in experience. We may speak of it as a manifestation of illness. When the observer reflects on that phenomenon and uses it as a base for further inferences, then that symptom is transformed into a sign. As a sign it points beyond itself — perhaps to the present illness, or to the past or to the future. That to which a sign points is part of its meaning, which may be rich and complex, or scanty, or any gradation in between. In medicine, then, a sign is thus a phenomenon from which we may get a message, a message that tells us something about the patient or the disease. A phenomenon or observation that does not convey a message is not a sign. The distinction between signs and symptom rests on the meaning, and this is not perceived but inferred.”[3]:81


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