How to Describe Symptoms and Illnesses in American Sign Language

By Adan R. Penilla, II, Angela Lee Taylor

Knowing the American Sign Language (ASL) signs for symptoms of illness can really help you figure out the best way to handle a medical problem. Like with talking, signing is sometimes difficult when you don’t feel well, but it’s a necessary part of receiving help. The signs in this table can take the sting out of communicating your problem.


Knocked out is signed K-O. With the dominant hand, start the K handshape at eye level with the O handshape ending at your mouth. Complete the Sign with closed eyes while bending your head to the side or in front.

If you sign BLUE or PURPLE, and then circle the area with your index finger, it means the area is bruised. Here’s how you sign those colors:

  • Blue


  • Purple