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Making a diagnosis

p Making a diagnosisExperts in medicine, dentistry or veterinary science must be like detectives when it comes to working out what's wrong with their patients. They look for common symptoms and signs to do this. Read on to find out more.

Working with patients, whether as a doctor, dentist or vet, you need to be able to piece together symptoms to diagnose what’s wrong with your patient.

Symptoms and signs

A patient will report symptoms to their doctor or dentist if they think there is something wrong. Once they do this, it is down to the expert to look for physical signs by asking questions and studying the patient. Using both findings, all medical practitioners should be able to make a diagnosis and find a cure. They do this based on their extensive training at medical school.

Common symptoms and diagnoses

Below are some common complaints faced by medical practitioners along with typical diagnoses. See if you can guess the diagnoses before you read them.

1) Your patient is a 40-year-old man complaining of bad breath. You ask the patient a few questions and discover they also have mild tooth ache.
2) Your patient is a 19-year-old woman who has a cough, which hurts her chest slightly. Her phlegm is a greenish brown colour and she has a slight temperature.

And the diagnosis is…scroll to the bottom of the page to find out.

Playing detective

Read the following symptoms of a patient. For the purpose of practising making diagnoses, use the links to online resources and any other relevant references to try to come up with some possible diagnoses for each case.

It is worth remembering that when you are a qualified doctor you will have a better understanding of the different signs and symptoms through your extensive training. In practice, it is not responsible to base a diagnosis purely on what you have read from online resources. If need be, discuss the symptoms with colleagues and refer to a medical dictionary as well.

Patient 1- A 30-year-old male who is experiencing tiredness and headaches. Although he is physically fit, he complains of feeling breathless after light exercise and generally looks pale. You discover he is a vegetarian.

Patient 2- A sixty-year-old woman who is experiencing itchy, inflamed skin on her torso, arms and legs. The itchiness only occurs during cold weather.

Related links

The diagnoses were...

1) The diagnosis is halitosis, caused by trapped food or an infection. However, other causes can include diabetes, drugs, gum disease, infection, poor diet, not eating, smoking and stress.
2) The diagnosis is a chest infection.