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Study: Common Symptoms Often Not Explained

At least one-third of patients who visit a doctor with common symptoms don't get a clear, disease-related cause, an evidence review finds. Symptoms lead to about half of all doctor visits in the United States. But doctors get less training in managing symptoms than in treating disease, the author says. The new review looked at nine prior studies. They focused on results of doctor visits for pain, fatigue, intestinal complaints and other common symptoms. The author did not include results related to colds and other upper respiratory illnesses. When doctors find a cause for symptoms, they usually don't need to do any tests. A patient's history and a physical exam are enough. Most people have multiple symptoms. Psychological and physical symptoms often occur together. For three out of four patients, symptoms go away within weeks to months. Other symptoms may last a long time.

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