Diagnosis Facts

  • Diagnosis is when a doctor works out what a patient is suffering from – the illness and perhaps its cause.
  • The history is the patient’s own account of their illness. This provides the doctor with a lot of clues.
  • The prognosis is the doctor’s assessment of how the illness will develop in the future.
  • Symptoms are changes which the patient or others notice and report.
  • Signs are changes the doctor detects on examination and maybe after tests.
  • After taking a history the doctor may carry out a physical examination, looking at the patient’s body for symptoms such as swelling and tenderness.
  • A stethoscope is a set of car tubes which allows the doctor to listen to sounds made by the body, such as breathing and the heart beating.
  • With certain symptoms, a doctor may order laboratory tests of blood and urine samples. Devices such as ultrasounds and X-rays may also be used to take special pictures.
  • Doctors nowadays may use computers to help them make a diagnosis
  • In future, many illnesses will be diagnosed entirely by computer.