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.
|Hypotension||Low blood pressure|
|Hypertension||High blood pressure|
|Hypothermia||Low body temperature|
|Bradycardia||Low heart rate|
|Tachycardia||High heart rate|
|Tinnitus||Ringing in the ears|
|Constipation||Infrequent/hard to pass stools|
|Diarrhea||Frequent/loose or watery stools|
|Polyuria||Urinating a large volume|
|Hirsutism||Excessive body hair growth|
|Chorea||Abnormal involuntary movement|
|Incontinence||Involuntary excretion of urine/feces|
|Flatulence||Elimination of gas from the anus|
|Dyspnea||Shortness of breath|
|Tachypnea||Abnormally rapid breathing|
|Sciatica||Pain going down leg from lower back|
|Anhedonia||Inability to experience pleasure|
|Nystagmus||Involuntary eye movement|
|Amenorrhea||Absence of menstrual periods|
|Amnesia||Difficulty recalling past events|
|Somnolence||Strong desire to sleep|
|Apathy||Lack of feeling, emotion, guilt|
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.