Symptom


Symptom

A symptom (from Greek σύμπτωμα, "accident, misfortune, that which befalls"[1], from συμπίπτω, "I befall", from συν- "together, with" + πίπτω, "I fall") is a departure from normal function or feeling which is noticed by a patient, indicating the presence of disease or abnormality. A symptom is subjective,[2] observed by the patient,[3] and not measured.[4]

A symptom may not be a malady, for example symptoms of pregnancy. One could debate, however, that this is an example of common misuse of a word, as the majority of symptoms and the history of the word are related to malady. The proper word for such situations would be "indication" or "suggestion" or simply "sign".

Contents

Types

Symptoms may be chronic, relapsing or remitting(present but without symptoms). Asymptomatic conditions and asymptomatic infections can ex(such as high blood pressure).

Constitutional or general symptoms are those that are related to the systemic effects of a disease (e.g., fever, malaise, anorexia, weight loss). They affect the entire body rather than a specific organ or location.

The terms "chief complaint", "presenting symptom", or "presenting complaint" are used to describe the initial concern which brings a patient to a doctor. The symptom that ultimately leads to a diagnosis is called a "cardinal symptom".

Non-specific symptoms are those self-reported symptoms that do not indicate a specific disease process or involve an isolated body system. For example, fatigue is a feature of an enormous number of medical conditions, and is a documented feature of both acute and chronic medical conditions, both physical and mental disorders, and as both a primary and secondary symptom. Fatigue is also a normal, healthy condition when experienced after exertion or at the end of a day.

Positive and negative symptoms

In describing mental disorders,[5][6] especially schizophrenia, symptoms can be divided into positive and negative symptoms.[7]

  • Positive symptoms are symptoms that most individuals do not normally experience but are present in the disorder. Examples are hallucinations, delusions, and bizarre behavior.[5]
  • Negative symptoms are symptoms that are not present or that are diminished in the affected persons but are normally found in healthy persons. Examples are social withdrawal, apathy, inability to experience pleasure and defects in attention control.[6]

Possible causes

Some symptoms occur in a wide range of disease processes, whereas other symptoms are fairly specific for a narrow range of illnesses. For example, a sudden loss of sight in one eye has a significantly smaller number of possible causes than nausea does.

Some symptoms can be misleading to the patient or the medical practitioner caring for them. For example, inflammation of the gallbladder often gives rise to pain in the right shoulder, which may understandably lead the patient to attribute the pain to a non-abdominal cause such as muscle strain.

Symptom versus sign

A symptom can more simply be defined as any feature which is noticed by the patient. A sign is noticed by other people. It is not necessarily the nature of the sign or symptom which defines it, but who observes it.

A feature might be sign or a symptom, or both, depending on the observer(s). For example, a skin rash may be noticed by either a healthcare professional as a sign, or by the patient as a symptom. When it is noticed by both, then the feature is both a sign and a symptom.

Some features, such as pain, can only be symptoms, because they cannot be directly observed by other people. Other features can only be signs, such as a blood cell count measured in a medical laboratory.

See also

References

  1. ^ Sumptoma, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, at Pursues
  2. ^ Pathology - Glossary
  3. ^ eMedicine/Stedman Medical Dictionary Lookup!
  4. ^ Devroede G (1992). "Constipation--a sign of a disease to be treated surgically, or a symptom to be deciphered as nonverbal communication?". J. Clin. Gastroenterol. 15 (3): 189–91. doi:10.1097/00004836-199210000-00003. PMID 1479160. 
  5. ^ a b Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders: positive symptom
  6. ^ a b [http://www.minddisorders.com/Kau-Nu/Negative-symptoms.html Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders: negative symptom
  7. ^ Mental Health: a Report from the Surgeon General

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • symptom — {{/stl 13}}{{stl 8}}rz. mnż I, D. u, Mc. symptommie {{/stl 8}}{{stl 7}} objaw, oznaka czegoś, najczęściej jakichś ujemnych zjawisk : {{/stl 7}}{{stl 10}}Symptom choroby. Symptom kryzysu. Symptom złego samopoczucia. <fr. z łac.> {{/stl 10}} …   Langenscheidt Polski wyjaśnień

  • Symptom — Symp tom, n. [F. sympt[^o]me, Gr. ? anything that has befallen one, a chance, causality, symptom, fr. ? to fall together; sy n with + ? to fall; akin to Skr. pat to fly, to fall. See {Syn }, and cf. {Asymptote}, {Feather}.] 1. (Med.) Any… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Symptom — Sn std. (18. Jh.) Entlehnung. Entlehnt aus gr. sýmptōma Begebenheit, Eigenschaft, Zufall , zu gr. sympíptein sich ereignen, zusammentreffen, zusammenfallen , zu gr. píptein geraten, herabfallen, stürzen und gr. syn . Adjektiv: symptomatisch.… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

  • symptom — (n.) 1540s, earlier sinthoma (late 14c.), from M.L. sinthoma symptom of a disease, from L.L. symptoma, from Gk. symptoma (gen. symptomatos) a happening, accident, disease, from stem of sympiptein to befall, from syn together + piptein to fall,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • symptom — ► NOUN Medicine 1) a feature which indicates a condition of disease, in particular one apparent to the patient. Compare with SIGN(Cf. ↑signer). 2) an indication of an undesirable situation. ORIGIN Greek sumpt ma chance, symptom …   English terms dictionary

  • Symptōm — (v. gr.), Anzeichen, Kennzeichen, bes. von einer Krankheit, s.d. S. 767. Daher Symptomatisch, anzeigend, zu S en der Krankheit gehörig, sie bildend, mehr zufällig hinzukommend, ohne zum Wesen der Krankheit zu gehören. Symptomatische Curart,… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Symptōm — (griech.), »Zufall«, Krankheitszufall, ein einer Krankheit eigentümliches Anzeichen, aus dem man unter anderm auf den Verlauf und den Charakter der Krankheit Schlüsse ziehen kann. Gelbsucht ist z. B. das S., unter dem sich mannigfache Krankheiten …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Symptom — Symptōm (grch.), Anzeichen, insbes. Krankheitszeichen; symptomātisch, anzeigend; symptomatische Mittel, Mittel die nur Krankheitssymptome, nicht die Krankheit selbst bekämpfen (z.B. Fiebermittel, Narkotika u.a.); Symptomatologīe, Lehre von den… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • symptom — I noun alarm, augury, characteristic, clue, danger signal, diagnostic, evidence, evincement, feature, forewarning, guide, index, indicant, indication, indicator, indice, indicium, intimation, manifestation, mark, means of recognition, monition,… …   Law dictionary

  • symptom — *sign, mark, token, badge …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Symptom — »Anzeichen; Krankheitszeichen; Kennzeichen, Merkmal; Vorbote«: Das Fremdwort ist eine gelehrte Entlehnung des 16. Jh.s aus griech. sým ptōma »Zufall; vorübergehende Eigentümlichkeit; zufälliger Umstand einer Krankheit«. Das zugrunde liegende… …   Das Herkunftswörterbuch


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