PTCB Test Prep Therapeutics

Top 50 Medical Signs and Symptoms You Need to Know!

Apr 5th, 2020
medical signs symptoms


Pharmacy technicians are important members of the healthcare team; professionals that act as the intermediary between the pharmacist, prescriber, and patient. A rounded knowledge of medical signs and symptoms is, then, an absolute must.

There is no easy way to learn medical signs and symptoms. It takes time. That being said, we can offer two enormous tips to help you along the way.

First, think about creating flashcards. Rather than memorizing the list below from scratch, place medical signs and symptoms on one side of a flashcard and its meaning on the other side. Periodically flick through the cards and you’ll be surprised how fast you commit these symptoms to memory.

Second, think about the etymological roots of the word. In other words, many of these medical symptoms have Latin or Greek roots. For instance, one of the easiest and most widespread is “hypertension”, which refers to high blood pressure. The prefix, “Hyper” derives from the Greek for “over, excess, exaggeration”.

Similarly, any word that contains “hyper” at the beginning refers to something that is over the normal value. “Hyperventilation” refers to “excessive breathing”, for example. There are many others you can learn. The opposite of “hyper” is “hypo”. Examples include hypotension and hypokalemia (low blood potassium levels). 

The more of these medical prefixes and suffixes you learn, the easier it becomes to work out what the word means. It also has the advantage of giving you the opportunity to eliminate wrong answers in a multiple-choice question – increasing your odds of selecting the correct answer.

With these tips in mind, let’s turn our attention to some must-know medical symptoms that all pharmacy technicians should know. Again, you will be tested on these terms in the PTCB exam.

It’s essential that you take the time to sit down and commit these symptoms to memory.

List of Medical Symptoms

Medical Symptom Definition
Pyrosis Heartburn
Pyrexia Fever
Epistaxis Nosebleed
Halitosis Bad breath
Tussis Cough
Oscitation Yawn
Hypotension Low blood pressure
Hypertension High blood pressure
Hypothermia Low body temperature
Diaphoresis Excessive sweating
Edema Swelling
Jaundice Yellowed skin
Bradycardia Low heart rate
Tachycardia High heart rate
Xerostomia Dry mouth
Otalgia Ear pain
Tinnitus Ringing in the ears
Trismus Lockjaw
Emesis Vomiting
Hematemesis Vomiting blood
Constipation Infrequent/hard to pass stools
Diarrhea Frequent/loose or watery stools
Impotence Erectile dysfunction
Polyuria Urinating a large volume
Blepharospasm Eyelid twitch
Sputum Coughed-up mucus
Urticaria Hives
Pruritus Itch
Mydriasis Pupil dilation
Miosis Pupil constriction
Alopecia Hair loss
Hirsutism Excessive body hair growth
Chorea Abnormal involuntary movement
Incontinence Involuntary excretion of urine/feces
Dyspepsia Indigestion
Flatulence Elimination of gas from the anus
Dysphagia Difficulty swallowing
Dyspnea Shortness of breath
Tachypnea Abnormally rapid breathing
Arthralgia Joint pain
Sciatica Pain going down leg from lower back
Anhedonia Inability to experience pleasure
Nystagmus Involuntary eye movement
Contusion Bruise
Amenorrhea Absence of menstrual periods
Amnesia Difficulty recalling past events
Somnolence Strong desire to sleep
Apathy Lack of feeling, emotion, guilt
Insomnia Sleeplessness
Syncope Fainting


Of course, this is not an exhaustive list – but it does feature many of the most common medical signs and symptoms you will come across during your career as a pharmacy technician.

During the PTCB exam, you should anticipate questions that ask about these kinds of signs and symptoms. Whilst you are not expected to know every sign and symptom, you should know the most common and be able to work out what a symptom may be referring to.

Check back to our blog at PTCB Test Prep soon for more content on medical signs and symptoms and the must-know facts you need to learn to maximize your result on exam day.