What Is the Difference Between a Symptom and a Treatment?


Quick Answer

In medicine, a treatment is how a physician manages and cares for a patient's disease, illness or injury through approaches, which may include dietary changes, using different types of conservative therapies, prescribing medication or recommending surgery. A symptom is different than this definition of treatment in that it is a subjective feature of an illness or medical issue experienced by the patient, which can include pain or feeling tired, states Medical News Today.

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Full Answer

Because there is often confusion between the terms signs and symptoms, it is useful to distinguish between these two medical terms. Although a symptom is a subjective phenomenon felt or sensed by a patient, a sign refers to the objective observation of a disease by a healthcare professional through an examination, notes Medical News Today. In some cases, a patient may not even notice certain signs that indicate a medical condition.

When referring to symptoms and treatments, it is also important to note that patients with different medical conditions can have similar symptoms, but may require different treatments. For example, two patients can experience similar symptoms, such as a runny nose and fatigue, which are symptoms of both an allergy and the common cold, according to WebMD. If one of the patients has a cold and the other an allergy to pollen, then the treatment options may be different. The patient with the allergy may require allergy shots or nasal steroids, while the patient with a cold may need some rest to relieve the symptom of fatigue.

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