Difference between Signs and Symptoms is a common question in medical science studies. But non-medical people use the two words “Sign” and “Symptom” interchangeably. We are using many words interchangeably such as Drug and Medicine, Hospital and Clinic, Packing and Packaging, Sterile and Pyrogen-free and so on. “Sign” and “Symptom” are interrelated and have some differences between Signs and Symptoms.
Signs or medical signs and symptoms are very important to understand a disease. Generally, the sign means mark but in medical science, signs are the physical manifestation of a disease that may observe by any observer. Symptoms are the abnormalities that perceive by the patient only. However, let’s see the difference between signs and symptoms.
Table of Contents
Signs vs Symptoms
Definition of Signs and Symptoms
Signs are the physical manifestation of disease or injury, an illness that is measurable and reproducible  and that can be recognized by any observer such as patients, doctors, other healthcare professionals, and other people. While symptoms are clinical manifestations of a disorder of organs or systems that can be recognized or perceived by only patients.
Types of Signs and Symptoms
Based on the type of inference that may be made from their presence, clinical signs or medical signs are four types.
A. Prognostic signs: They indicate the future outcome of the present bodily state of the patient, rather than specifying the disease name .
B. Anamnestic signs: Always they point to the past. They indicate the past existence of a certain disease or condition .
C. Diagnostic signs: they indicate the disease name means lead to the recognition and identification of disease .
D. Pathognomonic signs: They indicate with certainty a particular disease is present .
Symptoms generally fit into three main types:
A. Remitting symptoms: Those symptoms improve or resolve completely.
B. Relapsing symptoms: They have occurred in the past, resolved, and then returned.
C. Chronic symptoms: They are long-lasting or recurrent symptoms.
Nature of Signs and Symptoms
Signs are objective evidence or indication of disease because they can be seen or touched or heard or felt by patients and other persons. Whereas Symptoms are subjective evidence or indication of disease because symptoms are perceivable only by patients.
Measurability of Signs and Symptoms
Signs can be measured by clinical settings such as Stethoscope, Spirometer, Ophthalmoscope X-ray imaging, Sphygmomanometer, and thermometer. On the other hand, generally, symptoms cannot measure or are very difficult to measure in a clinical setting.
Visibility of Signs and Symptoms
Signs are visible outwards. While symptoms are not visible outwards. Only the patient can perceive.
Verification of Signs and Symptoms
Signs can be verified whereas Symptoms cannot be verified but reported to the physicians, Pharmacists, Nurses, and other people.
Detectability of Signs and Symptoms
Signs are detectable by any person such as a patient, physician, pharmacist, nurse or lay observer . Whereas Symptoms are detected or experienced or felt by the patient only.
Examples of Signs and Symptoms
Examples of signs are skin rash or lump, Palmar erythema, sweating wound, Ascites, Bleeding, bruising, swelling, oily skin, Gynecomastia, temperature, blood pressure , Cough, excessive Saliva, and Clubbing, etc.
On the other hand, examples of symptoms are anxiety, pain, fatigue, Hallucinations, nausea, headache, blur vision and photophobia etc.
Summary of the difference between Signs and Symptoms
|Definition||Signs are the physical manifestation of disease or injury, an illness that is measurable and reproducible and that can be recognized by any observer such as patients, doctors, other health care professionals, and other people.||Symptoms are clinical manifestations of a disorder of organs or systems that can be recognized or perceived by the patients only.|
|Types||Based on the type of inference that may be made from their presence, signs are 4 types. |
A. Prognostic signs
B. Anamnestic signs
C. Diagnostic signs
D. Pathognomonic signs
|Generally 3 types: |
A. Remitting symptoms
B. Relapsing symptoms
C. Chronic symptoms
|Nature||Objective evidence or indication of disease.||Subjective evidence or indication of disease.|
|Measurability||Measured by clinical settings such as Stethoscope, Spirometer, Ophthalmoscope X-ray imaging, Sphygmomanometer, and thermometer.||Cannot measure or is very difficult to measure in clinical settings.|
|Visibility||Visible outwards.||Vague and invisible.|
|Verification||Can be verified.||Cannot be verified but reported to others.|
|Detectability||Detectable by the patient and any person.||Detected or experienced or felt by the patient or sufferer only.|
|Examples||Examples of signs are skin rash or lump, Palmar erythema, sweating wound, Ascites, Bleeding, bruising, swelling, oily skin, Gynecomastia, temperature, blood pressure, cough, excessive Saliva, and Clubbing, etc.||Examples of symptoms are anxiety, pain, fatigue, Hallucinations, nausea, headache, blur vision, and photophobia etc.|
Now, I think there is no confusion about signs and symptoms after reading this article about the difference between Signs and Symptoms. If you have any further confusion please feel free and comments below. You may also read about the Difference between Drug and Medicine.
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- King, Lester S. Medical Thinking: A Historical Preface. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1982. ISBN 0-691-08297-9.
- C. M. MacBryde, R. S. Blacklow, and R. D. Aach, Signs and symptoms: applied pathologic physiology and clinical interpretation. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1970.
- R. F. LeBlond, R. L. DeGowin, and D. D. Brown, DeGowin’s diagnostic examination. New York: McGraw-Hill Medical, 2009.