Q:

How do doctors interpret medical symptoms?

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Quick Answer

Doctors interpret symptoms according to what patients tell them they feel like, their location on the body if they are physical symptoms, and their intensity and duration, both short- and long-term, states U.S. News & World Report. Details such as a patient's age and medical history also matter.

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How do doctors interpret medical symptoms?
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Full Answer

When it comes to symptoms, the patient is the expert, so it's important that the patient be as clear and detailed about them as possible to aid the doctor in making a proper diagnosis and beginning treatment, according to U.S. News & World Report. Patients should not try to master medical terms or describe their symptoms in a language they are not fully familiar with, as this could lead to confusion and a misdiagnosis. Individuals should describe their symptoms in their own words, even using figurative language that may give the doctor a fuller sense of what a symptom is like.

The person's current diet and medication regimen, recent activities, injuries or illnesses, and any previous history of similar symptoms should be reported as precisely as possible, advises U.S. News & World Report. Often this part of the diagnostic exam is as important as the description of the symptoms themselves because the symptoms may be caused by food items or drugs. When describing the symptoms to a diagnostician, the patient is the focal point of information and the most important person in the room.

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