7 Difference Between Signs and Symptoms with Examples

What is the difference between signs and symptoms?

Both signs and symptoms are medical terms that confuse many people. This article outlines examples of signs and symptoms. Let’s find that out together.

The main difference between symptoms and signs is that the former refers to something that only the patient can experience while the latter refers to a physical manifestation of something.

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Difference Between Signs and Symptoms

Comparison Table (Signs vs Symptoms)

Basic Terms Signs Symptoms
Meaning It is objective evidence of disease. The physical manifestation can be observed It is subjective evidence of disease. It implies that only the patient can experience.
Nature Objective Subjective
Observation Method Visible and observable by healthcare professionals The patient is the only one who experiences the symptoms
How to Check Blood test

Taking X-ray

Monitoring pulse rate

Taking temperature readings

Can only be felt
Types Anamnestic signs

Prognostic signs

Diagnostic signs

Chronic symptoms

Relapsing symptoms

Remitting symptoms

Visibility Visible Vague
Examples Cough

Skin rash





Body pain





What Are Signs?

Signs are the physical manifestations of health issues. These characteristics can be detected by a nurse, physician, or any other health care professional.

Signs are measurable and these measurements help to determine the diagnosis of the medical problem. Patients may not notice signs but health care professionals know how to relate them with the body parts.

Examples of signs are skin rash, AIDS, Cancer, Tuberculosis, Asthma, and cough. Most of these signs are treatable and manageable.

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Types of Signs

Medical signs are group into three types:

  • Anamnestic signs are used to describe the past experiences of a disease such as heart attack and paralysis stroke.
  • Prognostic signs help doctors in predicting the future disease base on the signs and symptoms.
  • Diagnostic signs describe the actual disease from which the person is suffering.

What Are Symptoms?

Symptoms are subjective evidence of disease. These symptoms are usually felt by the patient only. The patient is the one who describes the feeling to the health care professional for diagnosis.

Examples of symptoms are stomachaches, shivering, lower back pain, and muscle fatigue. Many patients usually prefer over the counter medication to alleviate the symptoms.

It would be best to take symptoms seriously and consult a physician for medical help as soon as possible since it implies underlying health conditions.

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Types of Symptoms

  • Chronic Symptoms refers to those that result in long-lasting pain. These symptoms do not go away like cancer, AIDs, and asthma.
  • Relapsing symptoms are those symptoms that occur again and again. The best example of relapsing symptoms is multiple sclerosis and cancer.
  • Remitting symptoms are those that escape completely from the body

Main Difference between Signs and Symptoms

  1. Signs are objective while symptoms are subjective in nature.
  2. Signs can be observed by the physician while symptoms can be felt by the patient.
  3. Signs can be measured while symptoms cannot be measured.
  4. Examples of signs are cancer and AIDS while symptoms are lower back pain and nausea.
  5. Signs are grouped into anamnestic, prognostic, and diagnostic while symptoms are grouped into chronic, relapsing, and remitting.

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Similarities between Signs and Symptoms

  1. Both can be diagnosed by health care professions
  2. Both are medical terms
  3. Both are grouped into three forms
  4. Both occur as a result of medical issues

In Conclusion

Signs and symptoms are closely related. But health care professionals are the only people who can make the difference with ease.

Both signs and symptoms help doctors to provide proper medication and treatment. These clues usually provide information about underlying health issues.

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