Looking for basic - or background - information on a topic is best done in textbooks or other resources that compile the known and standard information into a single resource.
PubMed can also give you background information that expands your background understanding.
In most cases, when searching in these resources one word or phrase is better than a long question or multiple concepts.
Symptoms and differential diagnositic information is often buried in a number of our resources. However, a few tools (both online and for your smart phone/PDA) have special tools to help with this process.
Dr. Gates has found a very helpful text within Access Medicine - Symptoms to Diagnosis: An Evidence Based Guide. Presented through a series of cases of patients complaining of a specific issue, then walks you through buiding the DDX and prioritizing it, and making the diagnosis. Unlike the interactive tools that give you list, . Topics include a variety of non-specific complaints from low back pain to weight loss to GI bleeding, to abdominal pain. Check out Chapter 1 as an overview of the diagnostic process.
The books we have include one that helps explain the thinking process (Symptom to Diagnosis) with topics that include a variety of non-specific complaints from low back pain to weight loss to GI bleeding, to abdominal pain. One book has a list of mnemonics (Collins' book) as well as the symptom info. Another book (Syed & Rasul's book) is organized by body areas and the last one (DDX of Common Complaints) focuses on the most common symptions and presents the way a doctor might pursue to diagnosis (images & tests).
Also listed below are some of the interactive DDX tools and their advantages.
Online Look-up Tools
Looking up information about the results of lab tests are mostly background questions. The following resources are easy to use tools to find very reliable information about the normal values, reference ranges, and more.