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Difference Between Signs and Symptoms

symptomsSigns vs Symptoms
Though signs and symptoms describe the same conditions, these two are different in many characteristics. While signs are what a doctor sees, symptoms are what a patient experiences. A symptom can be defined as one of the characters of a disease. Meanwhile, sign is the definite indication of a specific disease.

While signs are the physical manifestation of injury, illness or disease, symptoms can be described as what a patient experiences about the injury, illness or disease. When the patient notices symptoms, it is the others, especially the physician or doctor who notices signs. A high temperature, a rapid pulse, low blood pressure, open wound and bruising can be called as signs. Chills, shivering, fever, nausea, shaking and vertigo are the symptoms.

While signs are objective, symptoms on the other hand are subjective. Signs are called objective in the sense that they can be felt, heard or seen. Bleeding, bruising, swelling and fever are signs. Symptoms are subjective in the sense that they are not outwardly visible to others. It is only the patient who perceives and experiences the symptoms.

It is only when the patient experiences certain symptoms that he or she approaches a physician. Symptoms help the physician diagnose the problem. As symptoms are not visible outwards, it is most important that the patient be as descriptive so that the doctor or the physician may be able to assess and evaluate the symptoms.

Symptoms can also be defined as what the patient reports, but which cannot be verified. Feeling tired, feeling dizzy and having pain are some of the symptoms, which cannot be verified. But signs on the other hand can be verified. Signs can be measured in a clinical setting. High or low blood pressure, rapid heart rate or fever, can be measured.

Symptoms are vague but signs are visible. Sign is only an objective indication of some medical fact that may be detected by a physician. These signs may not have any meaning to patients but they are significant for a physician to diagnosis the medical conditions.

One can describe symptom as one that is experienced and reported by a patient. Meanwhile the doctor discovers signs of a disease during a patient’s examination.

Summary
1. Signs are what a doctor sees, symptoms are what a patient experiences.
2. While signs are the physical manifestation of injury, illness or disease, symptoms can be described as what a patient experience about the injury, illness or disease.
3. Signs are objective. Symptoms on the other hand are subjective


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10 Comments

    • Started off good but, the last line of the second paragraph you have “Chills, shivering, fever, nausea, shaking and vertigo are the symptoms. In the very next paragraph you have ” Bleeding, bruising, swelling and fever are signs”.
      If fever a special case? I stopped reading there because of the contradiction or am i correct it is a special case. Maybe it should be left out of the examples.

      • You can measure a fever with a thermometer, so it should be a sign. Feeling hot, burning, nausea, sweating may be symptoms.

      • As he mentioned towards the end of his passage, one of the differences he states is, “1. Signs are what a doctor sees, symptoms are what a patient experiences.” if i might add that when he means what a doctor “sees” also means what is smelt, felt, tasted(in rare cases of diagnosis), hear, and sees or the 5 senses. This is the difference that he is talking about when differentiating between a sign and a symptom. A simpler way to word this is that it is all observed by perspective. A fever can be felt and seen by a doctor making it a sign but it can also be a symptom do to the fact that the patient also experiences the fever. So you are right, but technically it is not a special case because there are also other symptoms/signs that fall under this category.

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