To check medical symptoms against known conditions, some main sources are the symptom checkers available at the WebMD and Mayo Clinic websites. Additionally, the WebMD site provides a full list of symptoms in alphabetical order. Although a symptom checker may be useful, it is a tool used for informational purposes and is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice, as stated by WebMD.
Although only a medical doctor can properly diagnose medical conditions through signs, symptoms and the use of diagnostic tools, a symptom checker may help patients learn what types of medical conditions may be causing a specific bothersome symptom. The symptom checker at the Mayo Clinic site has separate lists for adults' and children's symptoms. By clicking on one of the symptoms listed, a second page asks for related factors, such as location of the main symptom and any other accompanying symptoms that may be present. After choosing any additional factors, a list of possible causes or conditions is presented.
The symptom checker at the WebMD site is different because it first asks for information that includes sex and age before going to a page with a body map. The body map is used to choose the area of the body that has the symptoms. By making a list of symptoms that manifest in a given area, a listing of possible conditions is given. For example, if the upper abdominal region has symptoms, such as bloating or fullness with a change in bowel habits, then a possible list of some conditions that may cause these symptoms are gastroenteritis, colon polyps, irritable bowel syndrome, gallstones and colon cancer, as noted by WebMD.