Treatments & Therapies

Anamnesis – treatment, effect and risks


Getting to know each other plays an important role in the first contact between doctor and patient. Only those who know they are in good hands with their doctor are willing to accept the diagnosis and the proposed therapy. It is also important for the doctor to know the patient well. The first conversation between doctor and patient is called anamnesis .

What is the medical history?

The doctor not only needs to know about the current symptoms. There are different causes behind the same symptoms. The anamnesis provides him with an overview of the patient’s state of health, professional and personal living conditions and mental state. A careful anamnesis forms the starting point for the type and scope of subsequent therapy.

It helps the doctor to make a clear diagnosis and treat the patient effectively. The term anamnesis goes back to the Greek word “anámnēsis” and means “memory”. It describes both the questioning and the content of the medical history. In an in-depth discussion with the patient, a kind of “health résumé” is created in order to collect and document basic medical information about the patient.

In addition, the doctor has the opportunity to inspect his patient in advance (posture, complexion, condition of hair and fingernails ). Another goal of the anamnesis is to establish a positive relationship of trust between doctor and patient. This forms a crucial basis for subsequent successful treatment.

Function, effect & goals

The anamnesis is taken before the medical examination. How it works and how long it lasts depends on the symptoms of the patient and the specialty of the doctor. His goal is to find a first suspected diagnosis together with medical history and physical examination.He can back this up with additional examinations and initiate an effective therapy. Depending on where the information comes from, the physician distinguishes between personal and third-party anamnesis. The former is based on the patient’s own responses. A third-party anamnesis comes from people in his immediate environment.

This is necessary if the patient is unable to communicate adequately or if symptoms occur that he himself does not notice, for example because they occur while he is sleeping. The doctor greets his patient with the question: “What brings you to me?” and listen to their complaints. He asks specific questions that narrow the diagnosis and cover relevant areas of history.

The current anamnesis includes questions aimed at current complaints: where does it hurt and since when? How bad is the pain? When and how often do they occur? All answers that are not directly related to this are the subject of the “General Anamnesis”. This first examines the previous medical history of the patient. It records past illnesses, chronic illnesses, infectious diseases and childhood illnesses, previous operations, injuries, allergies or disabilities.

The vegetative anamnesis is about bodily functions such as eating habits, bowel movements, breathing and sleep. The doctor asks, for example, whether the patient is suffering from nausea , loss of appetite , dizziness or insomnia . When taking a medication history, the doctor is interested in what preparations the patient is taking or has taken, for what reason and in what dosage. Unfortunately, patients often forget to mention over-the-counter preparations or contraceptives such as the pill . But for the doctor, this information is important.

These medicines can affect the way other medicines work. Using the anamnesis of stimulants, the doctor can assess possible risk factors. Alcohol , drugs or cigarettes , as well as excessive coffee or sugar consumption, trigger or aggravate certain diseases. A trusting relationship between doctor and patient is of great importance, especially when it comes to these “sensitive” topics. Questions relating to the physical condition of the patient are summarized in the somatic anamnesis.

In contrast, the mental anamnesis analyzes his mental state. Most people are uncomfortable with these questions. However, those who feel that the doctor understands and cares about them are more willing to talk about stressful circumstances or feelings. Another chapter is the social anamnesis. It provides information about the social environment of the patient, his professional and family situation. Certain factors in the job cause occupational diseases such as asthma in bakers or bricklayers.

Likewise, high physical and mental stress at work or family conflicts trigger health disorders. The family history investigates genetic risks. She researches hereditary diseases and predispositions for certain diseases such as rheumatism , diabetes , cancer or mental disorders. These often occur together in the same family. In addition, people within the family can become infected with infectious diseases. Therefore, the doctor inquires about diseases of living and the causes of death of deceased relatives.

Risks, side effects & dangers

All of these answers provide important information about the possible causes of the current symptoms. The success of the later therapy depends crucially on the information the doctor receives from the anamnesis and the physical examination. Therefore, he will carry out the survey differently depending on the complaint, his area of ​​expertise and his experience.

90% of all diagnoses are based on the conclusive combination of medical history and physical examination. Provided that all of the patient’s information has been correctly received by the doctor. Rarely do misunderstandings or unknowingly incorrect information from the patient lead to incorrect diagnoses. A good doctor is able to filter out the decisive information from the multitude of information, to interpret it correctly and to make an exact diagnosis.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.