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(also called semeiotics), the study of the symptoms of diseases. Symptomatology may be general or specific.
General symptomatology studies the relationship of a given disease to the patient’s general characteristics— sex, age, nationality, occupation, heredity, previous illnesses, and constitution. It also studies such indications of his condition as posture, facial expression, fever, and changes in consciousness. The patient’s general characteristics play an important role in diagnosis. For example, hemophilia rarely affects women, measles is predominantly a disease of childhood, sickle cell anemia is widespread in Equatorial Africa but is not found among the indigenous peoples of America and Australia, there exists a special group of occupational diseases, and parkinsonism (Parkinson’s disease) may be diagnosed by observing a patient’s appearance and gait. General symptomatology also investigates changes in the function and morphology of organs as well as differing results of laboratory tests; examples are the diagnostic significance of enlargement of the liver or characteristics of the urine and feces in jaundice.
Specific symptomatology studies the diagnostic significance and initial manifestations of the symptoms of individual diseases. It also studies causes of a possible absence of symptoms, as well as combinations of symptoms. Symptomatology is an important component of diagnostics.
REFERENCESHegglin, R. Differentsial’naia diagnostika vnutrennikh boleznei. Moscow, 1965. (Translated from German.)
Lazovskii, I. R. Klinicheskie simptomy i sindromy. Riga, 1971.