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3.11. Sign = objective evidence of disease

According to Saussure, a "sign" is a combination of signifier (what we perceive) and signified (the meaning we make of what's perceived).
In medicine, a "sign" is objective evidence of a disease (blood pressure 150/100 mmHg) as opposed to a "symptom," (headache) only perceivable by the patient. The signs & symptoms indicate a disease process or differential diagnosis.

Here are some signs that may or may not come in handy one day.

Auspitz sign: if you pick off a patch of your own scaly skin (why?) and see pin point bleeding underneath, it's psoriasis.

Brudzinski's sign: when my mother was dying from meningitis and someone pushed on her neck to bend it upwards, her knees would bend too, helping confirm the diagnosis.

Blumbergs sign: tender pain after a doctor presses on the abdomen then lets go. Possible peritonitis.

Cardinal signs of choking: inability to speak, cyanosis, & collapse. (If you ask, "Are you choking?" and there's no answer and the person turn blue and falls, yes, that person's probably choking.)

Chvostek's sign: tap in front of of the ear and the patient's facial muscles twitch? Low calcium levels in the blood. Very dangerous because changes in heart rhythm and seizures may be forthcoming.

Cullen's sign: if there's blue-ish discoloration in the umbilical area, this might be pancreatitis.

Herman’s Sign: red and purple rash on upper and lower extremities--with other symptoms, could be Dengue fever (Damn mosquitos.)

Kehr's Sign: abdominal pain radiating to the left shoulder? Maybe a ruptured spleen.

Kernig's sign: back to my mother. Additional evidence of her meningitis (if she were still conscious) would be inability to bend the knees more than 90 degrees without overwhelming pain.

McBurney's Sign: some mean person pushing down on the right lower part of the abdomen = pain & tenderness? Might be appendicitis. Who needs an appendix, anyway?

Murphy's sign: another mean person pushing on the gallbladder and it hurts? Possible cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder--the liver's little green purse). Don't really need the gallbladder, either.

Stokes' sign: nothing to get excited about. Somebody's tumor is compressing the superior vena cava and making the collar feel tight.

Trendelenburg's sign: contralateral side droops because the ipsilateral hip abductors do not stabilize or prevent the droop (English: hips go crooked when standing on one leg), a sign of developmental dysplasia (abnormal growth) of the hip.

Trousseau's sign: spasm of fingers and wrist when a blood pressure cuff is tightened at the upper arm, another sign of low calcium level in the blood.

Turner's sign: grayish-blue coloring on one's flanks--another sign of possible pancreatitis. Maybe go lighter on the booze next time.


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