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Can a doctor tell what is wrong with you just by looking at you?

By Gordon Cohen MD PhD FACS, Chief Medical Officer at PRO Sports Club

SPONSORED — When you go to medical school, one of the first things you learn is how to do a core physical diagnosis. It is about both listening to your patient and examining your patient. That is part of the art and science of medicine. Sir William Osier, one of the founders of modern medicine and one of the physicians who started Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, was best-known for saying “Listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis”. What that emphasizes is the importance of taking a good history. Talking to a patient tells you what they are feeling but it is really when you do the examination and observe subtle signs about the patient that helps you make an initial diagnosis.

For example, when you look at a patient eyes they can tell you a lot about their health. If they are discolored or yellow this can represent some sort of a liver problem, or if they are bloodshot, this can indicate the possibility of diabetes. If you look at someone’s fingernails, you can tell a lot by the color of the fingernails or the shape of their fingertips. Is the patient getting adequate blood supply or circulation?

There are many ways to observe someone’s health. If you just look at the way someone breaths while at rest, are they breathing rapidly or slowly, is their breathing labored, or are there sounds associated with their breathing? When the doctor looks at your throat, they can see so much. The color of your tongue, the mucus membranes throughout your mouth. They can tell things about your health by looking at how healthy your teeth are. Just looking at someone and seeing the very basics of how they sit in front of you can be very telling. Some physicians say that by the time they watch a patient walk down the hall they can already tell what is wrong with them.

It is all these things put together that a physician uses to come up with a diagnosis.

The way that medicine is supposed to work is that the physician speaks to you, gets a history from you and begins to form his initial diagnosis. He or she then does a physical exam to try and confirm what they believe. Next, they order tests to support what their suspicions are.

I believe it is a good idea to get an annual exam or to visit your doctor if you are experiencing any health concerns or symptoms. In addition, for long term health it’s beneficial to have a team working with you to give you all the tools you need for a healthy lifestyle.

The PRO Sports Club 20/20 Lifestyles program is built on extensive clinical expertise that blends together education, nutrition, exercise, lifestyle coaching, and medical supervision. This unique medically-based program uses sound science to help you lose weight, keep it off, and get your health back in balance which can have a significant impact on your everyday life.
For more information on 20/20 Lifestyles or other programs at PRO Sports Club, visit or 20/20

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