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WikiProject Medicine (Rated Start-class, Mid-importance)
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Suggestion for expansion[edit]

I'd suggest that the current version be expanded from purely a medical context to a problem-solving context. (talk) 14:42, 1 April 2011 (UTC)


Cleaned up a bit, article still seems sorely lacking and still very messy but for the moment I've done what I can. Too many sections are distracting, so I've combined the ones that were related. They didn't have enough information to warrant being separate anyway. See the MoS. The bold text was also inappropriate. Quotes should be used. See MoS for that too. The section on Symptoms vs. Signs was better written and more informative at the signs article. RShnike (talk) 04:01, 13 June 2008 (UTC)


some unreferenced sections. Which leads me to want to question stuff. E.g. is pain always a symptom and never a sign? What about pain detected in the brain's electrical activity in a anesthetized patient? Lesion (talk) 18:14, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

According to the pain experts, if you're not conscious, it is impossible for you to experience pain. Pain is whatever the patient says it is. If you can't comprehend it, then you cannot (by definition) experience pain. This is a very convenient definition if you are trying to prove that a fetus does not experience pain. It is a very awkward definition if you are trying to deal with advanced dementia or anesthetized patients. (It's also an awkward definition when you are dealing with flat-out liars who are seeking drugs or shirking work, but there they can do some handwaving about the patient knowing the truth and that pain is what the patient says to himself, rather than what the patient says to the medical staff.)
So, yes: always a symptom. Pain is always whatever the patient says it is, and a symptom is what the patient self-reports. With further technological advances, this may change, but for now, it's always a symptom. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:08, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
I went over the definitions from groups like the international association for the study of pain, and you are right. A subjective experience, and for something to be experienced there needs to be a degree of consciousness... I asked a surgeon I was helping once, why give local anesthetic in such long operations if the analgesic effect of the LA will be worn off by the time the patient wakes? Why not just give the vasoconstrictor by itself? To which the surgeon replied, that people still feel pain when they are under anesthesia. But this is wrong according to the IASP. It is strange then that you might see "signs of pain" e.g. increased heart rate etc if you inflicted "pain" on an anesthetized person.
On another note, I like where the page says that a feature may be both a sign and symptom at the same time (is there a source?). This makes so much sense. In some articles I have read I admire the way editors have made neatly separated lists of signs from symptoms. I often have difficulty separating signs from symptoms, not because I don't understand the difference, but because it is so easy to envisage scenarios where a sign might potentially be a symptom and vice versa, just depending upon whether the individual in question notices the feature and complains of it, or it is detected during the examination. Now I usually just throw signs and symptoms together in one list to save time, and now this article sort of justifies that approach (if indeed a source supports that statement). And not that we should have lists anyway =D Lesion (talk) 21:47, 9 July 2013 (UTC)

Definition disputed[edit]

I don't agree with the lead-off sentence which gives this definition:

...a departure from normal function or feeling which is noticed by a patient, indicating the presence of disease or abnormality.

My quarrel is with the part after the comma: imho a symptom does not necessarily imply disease or abnormality.

This page, claiming to derive from DSM-IV, says that a symptom "refers to an observable behavior or state" with "no implication that an underlying problem necessarily exists or that there is a physical etiology". If this holds up, the definition needs to be changed. Mathglot (talk) 06:35, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

Good catch, Mathglot. Dorland's defines it as any subjective evidence of disease or of a patient's condition, i.e., such evidence as perceived by the patient; a change in a patient's condition indicative of some bodily or mental state [1]. I think that specifically medical reference works should take precedence over more generalized (common-usage) language definitions.

Suggest: " a departure from normal function or feeling which is noticed by a personper WP:MEDMOS, reflecting an unusual state or disease." (talk) 11:10, 11 January 2015 (UTC)

I would alter the ambiguous noticed by a person, as that could mean noticed by a doctor or other person, in which case by definition it is a sign and not a symptom. Mathglot (talk) 08:27, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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