I know that anamnesis is the process of asking potentially relevant questions for building a medical history of a patient. I think this involves:

  • Getting to know past illnesses of the patient
  • Getting to know which illnesses are in the patient's family
  • Asking for previous medication

But once the doctor has the history, is there a word for the process of figuring out the symptoms why a patient visited the doctor in the first place?

I imagine that doctors check the following in this process:

  • Does the patient have any pain? If so, at which location and how severe is it?
  • Are there other inconveniences, such as:
    • coughing
    • not getting enough air
    • running nose
    • pressure on the ear
    • feeling dizzy
    • feeling confused
    • ...

(Reason for this question: I wanted to have a look if there are books on Amazon which help in this process for people from foreign countries. So people needing a doctor, but being unable to describe properly with words what is going on)

  • Diagnosis is when the doctor determines the reason for your symptoms
    – Kris
    Dec 29, 2017 at 15:38

1 Answer 1


Anamnesis = patient's medical history = a summary of all symptoms and all other relevant data (family history, circumstances in which the problems started, etc.) that a patient reveals. So, all examples mentioned in your question fall under anamnesis.

The subject that describes how to perform an anamnesis and physical examination is called clinical propedeutics. Various books for doctors and nurses are available, but this may be way beyond what someone needs to know from a patient's perspective.

There are numerous layman "family health" books available...

Online sources:

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