Breathing difficulties Assessment Questionnaire
Questions Your Doctor May Ask - and Why!
During a consultation, your doctor will use various techniques to assess the
symptom: Breathing difficulties. These will include a physical examination and possibly diagnostic
tests. (Note: A physical exam is always done, diagnostic tests may or may not
be performed depending on the suspected condition)
Your doctor will ask several questions when assessing your condition. It is
important to openly share any pertinent information to help your doctor make an
It is also very important to bring an up-to-date list of all of your all
medical conditions, medications including dosages, and names of numbers of any
specialist you see.
Create your printable checklist by answering questions that your doctor may ask
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- Was the onset sudden or gradual?
Why: if sudden consider adult respiratory distress syndrome, pulmonary embolism, pneumothorax, lung collapse. If gradual onset, consider chronic diseases such as congestive cardiac failure, emphysema and fibrosis.
- What makes the breathing problems worse?
Why: e.g. exertion, laying flat in bed.
- Recent history of bleeding?
Why: e.g. heavy periods with clots, vomiting blood, bloody stools, rectal bleeding - may suggest anemia as cause for breathing problems.
- Past Medical history?
Why: previous respiratory illness e.g. pneumonia, tuberculosis, chronic bronchitis; previous heart problems; HIV infection ( at high risk for Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia); previous high blood pressure, ischemic heart disease, heart attack, heart valve disease, deep venous thrombosis or Rheumatic fever.
Why: many different medications can produce lung problems e.g. pulmonary embolism from oral contraceptive pill; fibrotic lung diseases from cytotoxic agents such as methotrexate, cyclophosphamide and bleomycin; bronchospasm from beta-blockers or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications; cough from ACE inhibitor blood pressure medications.
- Cigarette smoking?
Why: number of packets per day and number of years you have smoked. Smoking is a major risk cause of lung cancer, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Passive smoking exposure is also regarded as a significant risk.
- Occupational history?
Why: e.g. exposure to dusts in mining industries and factories such as asbestos, coal, silica, iron oxide, tin oxide, cotton, beryllium, titanium oxide, silver, nitrogen dioxide, anhydrides; exposure to animals e.g. Q fever or psittacosis; exposure to moldy hay, humidifiers or air conditioners may result in allergic alveolitis.
- Family history?
Why: asthma, cystic fibrosis, emphysema, alpha-1-anti-typsin deficiency, tuberculosis, heart attacks.
- How long have you had the breathing difficulties?
Why: to determine if acute or chronic.
- Drug taking history?
Why: cocaine or injected narcotic drugs can cause breathing difficulties.
- Alcohol history?
Why: The drinking of large amounts of alcohol in binges can sometimes result in aspiration pneumonia and alcoholics are also prone to develop pneumococcal or Klebsiella pneumonia.
Why: color and quantity? - e.g large volume pus-like suggests bronchiectasis or pneumonia; foul smelling dark colored suggests lung abscess; pink frothy secretions may due to left ventricular heart failure; blood in sputum can be a serious sign of lung disease and must always be investigated.
- Audible wheeze?
Why: may suggest asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, airways obstruction (by a foreign body or tumor) or left ventricular heart failure.
- Stridor (a rasping noise heard loudest on inspiration)?
Why: indicates obstruction of the larynx, trachea or large airways by a foreign body, a tumor or infection e.g. epiglottitis.
Why: e.g. fever at night may suggest tuberculosis, pneumonia of mesothelioma ( tumor of lung lining due to asbestos exposure).
- Chest pain?
Why: may be due to lung or heart disease.
- Orthopnea (breathlessness lying down flat)?
Why: suggests left ventricular heart failure.
- Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea (inappropriate severe breathlessness causing waking from sleep)?
Why: suggests left ventricular failure.
- Ankle swelling?
Why: may suggest heart failure.
- Palpitations of the heart?
Why: - may indicate that heart arrhythmia may be the cause of breath problems.
- Fever and pus-like sputum?
Why: suggests pneumonia.
- Chest pain with blood in sputum?
Why: need to rule out pulmonary embolism.
Conditions listing medical symptoms: Breathing difficulties:
The following list of conditions
have 'Breathing difficulties' or similar
listed as a symptom in our database.
This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete.
Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause
of any symptom.
Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which
include a symptom of Breathing difficulties or choose View All.
Conditions listing medical complications: Breathing difficulties:
The following list of medical conditions have 'Breathing difficulties'
or similar listed as a medical complication in our database.