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Does anyone know of any good databases that contain symptoms for diseases and other ailments in humans? I've tried working with UMLS, but thats been impossible to work with. I've also tried working with the disease ontology website (http://www.disease-ontology.org/), but that doesn't seem to be very...comprehensive...in terms of symptoms for the diseases they have.

I've tried looking at the the disease database (http://www.diseasesdatabase.com/), but they are reluctant to hand over the raw data, if I understand correctly.

Anyone have better ideas?

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In what way is UMLS hard to work with? Can you elaborate? –  Jeff Ferland Nov 28 '11 at 20:38
2  
Wouldn't ICD10 sufice if you index it properly? –  the_ajp Dec 2 '11 at 8:50

3 Answers 3

It seems to me like you're effectively wanting to make a decision matrix.

So... As said above, ICD and SNOMED CT going to have codes for your diseases and symptoms. I'd lean toward SNOMED CT due to the way it organises concepts. Essentially from broad to specific. That way users can enter very specific symptoms, and your matrix only needs to have symptoms as specific as is required. For example you can say "vomitting" is a symptom of "alcohol poisoning" in your db. And if a user enters "projectile vomitting" the SNOMED structure recognises this as a type of vomitting.

However - Symptoms don't make the disease, and most diseases have a huge array of 'possible symptoms' (Which is why SNOMED CT doesn't have such relationships). So it's not an easy undertaking. Hence why those who've made such db's (as you've linked to) are reluctant to share their IP, at least without $$$.

If you're going to make your own, here's some tips. Consider:

  • only diseases relevant to your use case - eg. Aged care doesn't require paediatric disorders;
  • exclude non-specific symptoms;
  • rank your symptoms by frequency - eg. 60% of pregnant women have morning sickness, where as 100% have an HCG > 10*

Hope this helps. And good luck.

edit- there is a similar thread on LinkedIn

*fabricated statistic :).

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It is not clear how you are trying to work with data, but maybe Snomed CT may be an option for you? Especially if there are subsets defined for the particular clinical problems you're working on.

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My apologies for not being clear. I'd like to make a relational database that links human disease with the associated symptoms. So, in the end, I could search from "fever" and see what diseases are associated with the "fever" term. I'd also like to be able to look up a disease and see what symptoms and other issues are related with it. As far as I can tell, SNOMEDCT only gives ICD codes for diseases, not what symptoms are linked with a disease. –  Vito Dec 1 '11 at 2:13
    
In this case, Snomed CT would not help you much. It defines the relationship between concepts in an ontological way, not in a causal way. –  sarikan Dec 1 '11 at 9:07

Thanks for this question, Vito. One I have been pondering for a while. Please visit this post for one possible way to go ahead with an open, distributed database of diseases X symptoms, based on the OBO disease ontology and symptom ontology. Collaborators welcome!

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