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March 13, 1981

Common Symptoms of Disease in the Elderly

Author Affiliations

Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center Bronx, NY


by H. M. Hodkinson, ed 2; 147 pp, paper, $12.95, Oxford, England, Blackwell Scientific Publications (St Louis, CV Mosby Co, distributors), 1980.

JAMA. 1981;245(10):1072. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03310350056033

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Patients present themselves in the physician's office with symptoms rather than with named syndromes and diseases. Thus, a text that discusses symptoms as such would seem, a priori, both reasonable and useful as a teaching device. Symptom lists, in one possible form much larger than this small book, could generate patient flow charts; in another they could well be an orientation to that future in which the computer will contribute to more accurate differential diagnosis.

In practice, however, books of symptoms face formidable problems, including dealing with the obvious to the point of being tedious, or grappling with space problems that reduce "constipation" or "diarrhea" to a page or two, as in the present text. In a scant 132 pages, Professor Hodkinson has dealt about as well with the topic as can be done, considering his many constraints.

Some of the topics he considers include "How Diseases Differ in Old