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Common Stuffs in Medicine Posting


"STUFF" is a common word in our various wards, clinics, grand rounds and seminars. In this piece it denotes basic clinical skills and ability to interpret clinical symptoms, signs and laboratory results to be able to make a meaningful diagnosis.

Common stuffs is designed as a synopsis for medical students, house officers and junior residents alike to compliment other major textbooks. It covers history taking and clinical examination in general and in respect to the most commonly encountered medical conditions in our clinical settings. It also contains important information on presentations and treatments with respect to these clinical conditions. It is my sincere hope that this book will help improve our knowledge in terms of recognition, diagnosis and management of common ailments. -  Dr. Abdul Habu (Consultant physician).


Clinical postings can be very challenging. This is because of colossal nature of information medical students are bombarded with within relatively short period of time. Students sometimes find it difficult to sieve and extrapolate relevant and crucial information from most standard textbooks because of their voluminous nature. The aim of this book is to provide a portable source of highly germane and
vital information for medical students. house officers and younger medical officers.
Optimal benefit could however be derived from the book when combined with standard textbooks for better understandings.
To achicve the aim of this book, only common medical cases in Nigeria and other west Arican Countries are discussed.

Reporting history taking and examination findings could also constitute some
puzzles for medical students. This book also contains sample clerkings of most
commonly encountered mcdical cases both in the wards and during clinical examinations.
The book can also serve as a quick revision material for those preparing for clinical examinations.
I hope the book will stimulate the interest of the readers in further readings.

Dr. 0GUNYELE Tirimidhi Titilope (Author)
Federal Medical center, Nguru

Chapter 1

Symptoms, Signs and Diagnosis


Symptoms are abnormal feelings of body
functions noticed by patient
  •  That may indicate presence of a disease
  • It is subjective
  • And it is reported by patient
It is complain made by the patient to
physician or other health practitioner
Sometimes it may be physiologic e.g. symptoms of pregnancy and perimenopausal symptoms
The terms "chief complains" or "presenting complains" or presenting symptoms are used to describe major concerns (symptoms) that make patient to seek the help of a dočtor
Cardinal symptoms are those that lead to
ultimate diagnosis
Specific symptoms are those that are
specific to a particular disease or region
of the body
  • E.g. dysuria is a symptoms of urinary system
  • While palpitation is a symptom of cardiovascular system
Nonspecific symptoms are those that are not specific to a particular disease nor body region
  • E.g. fever
  • And fatigue


Signs are indication of health conditions or diagnosis that are detected by a physician or other health practitioners during physical examination.
It may not have meaning to the patient
It may not be part of pauent s complain
Some complains of patient can be picked
up during examination as signs, for
  • Patient complaining of leg swelling (symptom) may be noticed to have pedal edema (sign)
Mostly different terms are used to described symptoms and signs however some single terms refers to both symptoms and signs. E.g;
  • Dyspnea
  • Fever
  • Convulsion
Pathognomonie signs
These are signs whose presence proved beyond doubt the presence of a particular

Singular pathognomonic signs are relatively

  • Palmar xanthomata in hyperlipoproteinemia
  • Koplik's sign in the mouth is most pathognomonic sign in measles 
  • Negri bodies in brain tissue in Rabies


It is process of attempting to identifying a
possible disease or disorder and opinion
reached by the process.
It is the determination of nature of disease condition by careful history, examinations and investigations.
It is also disease condition identified by
above process.

Differential diagnosis
A list of most common causes of set(s) of
symptom(s), sign(s) or a clinical condition
Or a list of other disorders similar to a

A process of weighing the probability of a
disorder versus another accounting for a
patient's clinical condition.

The mnemonics "VINDICATE M" could
help considering all possible differential of
clinical conditions
  • V: Vascular
  • I: Intlammatory/Infectious/ Infestations
  • N: Neoplasm/ Nutritional 
  • D: Drugs/ Deficiency/ Degenerative
  • I: ldiopathic/ Intoxications/ latrogenc
  • C: Congenital/ Connective
  • A: Autoimmune/ Allergic
  • T: Traumatic
  • E: Endocrine/ Environmental
  • M: Metabolic

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