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A sign is a physical manifestation of an illness or condition. For example, an elevation of body temperature (a fever) is a sign of illness. This is not to be confused with a symptom, which is what the patient reports. "I felt warm last night - I think I had a fever." The patient vomited three times is a sign; "I have been feeling nauseated..." is again, a symptom. This can be a little confusing even (or especially) to medical students.