A sign has the potential to be objectively observed by someone other than the patient, whereas a symptom does not. There is a correlation between this difference and the difference between the medical history and the physical examination . Symptoms belong only to the history, whereas signs can often belong to both. Clinical signs such as rash and muscle tremors are objectively observable both by the patient and by anyone else. Some signs belong only to the physical examination, because it takes medical expertise to uncover them. (For example, laboratory signs such as hypocalcaemia or neutropenia require blood tests to find.) A sign observed by the patient last week but now gone (such as a resolved rash) was a sign, but it belongs to the medical history, not the physical examination, because the physician cannot independently verify it today.
We say "on average" because there are often exceptions to the rule. Some patients have exhibited signs of the preactive phase of dying for a month or longer, while some patients exhibit signs of the active phase of dying for two weeks. Many hospice staff have been fooled into thinking that death was about to occur, when the patient had unusually low blood pressure or longer periods of pausing in the breathing rhythym. However, some patients with these symptoms can suddenly recover and live a week, a month or even longer. Low blood pressure alone or long periods of pausing in the breathing (apnea) are not reliable indicators of imminent death in all cases. God alone knows for sure when death will occur.
I’m another ’72 diagnosed person (41 years in December). I remember “woozie” (woozy?) from those years. It was the perfect word. Onomatopoeia (great Todd Rundgren song). There would be a little cartoon figure in the teaching literature. (No word or figure for highes as I remember.) Woozie worked then. Many years later lows (and highs) changed, and have contininued to change. Today they are sometime sneaky and come out of nowhere. Others are more obvious like delayed eating after a shot. (I’m MDI and machine test.) The worst lately have been pernicious lows that won’t respond to carbs/glucose, or that go up a little and then crash again soon after. Happening a lot at work lately.