Difference between Symptom and Syndrome

Key Difference: Symptoms are the things that can only be felt by the patient. These are the things that a patient experiences about the illness, injury or disease. These must be described to the doctor, in order for him or her to diagnose the patient. Syndrome is the group of various features, signs, symptoms, phenomena or characteristics that are clinically recognizable.

The terms symptom and syndrome can puzzle a person every time he goes to a doctor. Whenever a person is sick, and if someone asks what happened or how they are feeling, people start describing their symptoms, but what are symptoms?

Actually, syndrome and symptoms are two different things that manifest when a person is ill, and they differ significantly. Essentially, syndromes are symptomatic, while symptoms are subjective. This means that symptoms are the thing that the patient feels, but can’t be seen. While, syndrome is been observed by the other person than the patient.

A symptom was derived from the Greek word, meaning ‘misfortune’ or ‘accident’. Symptoms cannot be felt by others besides the patient. The patient experiences illness, injury or disease. These must be described to the doctor, in order for him or her to diagnose the patient. Actually, a diagnosis is 80% to 90% based on the symptoms as felt and described by the patient, while the rest will be based on signs and laboratory results. Symptoms can include pain, nausea, chills, numbness, fatigue, vertigo, malaise, itching, stomach cramps, burning on urination, etc. The symptom caused by a syndrome does not have an established reason behind it.

Syndrome is the group of various features, signs, symptoms, phenomena or characteristics that are clinically recognizable. The term syndrome is derived from the Greek word sundrome, meaning ‘along, with together’ or ‘running together’. A syndrome may produce a number of symptoms without an identifiable cause. There are so many reasons of syndromes that are not yet identified. The doctor may prescribe temporary medications that helps in controlling one’s symptoms. For instance, the reasons behind a chronic fatigue syndrome have never been established. A psychological disorder or other abnormal conditions are the main symptoms that indicate or characterize a disease.

Comparison between Symptom and Syndrome:

 

Symptom

Syndrome

Description

(Dictionary.com)

  • Any phenomenon or circumstance accompanying something and serving as evidence of it.
  • A sign or indication of something.
  • Pathology - A phenomenon that arises from and accompanies a particular disease or disorder and serves as an indication of it.
  • Pathology, psychiatry. A group of symptoms that together is characteristic of a specific disorder, disease, or the like.
  • A group of related or coincident things, events, actions, etc.
  • The pattern of symptoms that characterize or indicate a particular social condition.
  • A predictable, characteristic pattern of behavior, action, etc., that tends to occur under certain circumstances: the retirement syndrome of endless golf and bridge games; the feast-or-famine syndrome of big business.

Experienced

Symptoms can only be experienced by the patient.

Syndrome is a set of symptoms occurring altogether. It is reported by patient but is observed by others.

Synonyms

  • Indication
  • Sign
  • Warning sign
  • Indicator
  • Manifestation
  • Complex
  • Illness
  • Condition
  • Disorder
  • Affliction
  • Sickness

Examples

  • The first problem he noticed was a difficulty seeing at night, a common early symptom.
  • Cold intolerance can be a symptom of a metabolic problem.
  • Insomnia can be a symptom of a larger problem.
  • AIDS is example of a syndrome.
  • The savant syndrome and autism are well established.
  • The syndrome may be linked to problems in certain areas of the brain.

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