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Cough Assessment Questionnaire

Questions Your Doctor May Ask - and Why!

During a consultation, your doctor will use various techniques to assess the symptom: Cough. 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 accurate diagnosis.

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 below:

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  1. How long have you had the cough?

    Why: to determine if acute or chronic i.e. chronic cough is a cough that has been present and not improving for more than 4 weeks. Acute cough may suggest acute upper respiratory tract infection (e.g. common cold or influenza), viral pneumonia or bacterial pneumonia. A chronic cough is more suggestive of pneumoconiosis (lung disorder caused by inhalation of mineral dusts, organic dusts, fumes and vapors), chronic bronchitis, emphysema, bronchiectasis, tuberculosis, lung cancer or asthma.

  2. How would you describe the cough?

    Why: e.g. paroxysmal with whoops suggest whooping cough, painful cough may suggest left ventricular heart failure, weak cough may suggest lung cancer, bovine (no power to cough) suggests vocal cord paralysis.

  3. What time of the day is the cough worse?

    Why: e.g. cough at night may suggest asthma, left ventricular failure, postnasal drip, chronic bronchitis, whooping cough; cough on waking may suggest bronchiectasis, chronic bronchitis or gastro-esophageal reflux.

  4. Is the cough related to meals?

    Why: e.g. esophageal diverticulum, tracheo-esophageal fistula.

  5. Is there a possibility of a foreign body?

    Why: such as a peanut having gone down the wrong way?

  6. Past medical history?

    Why: recurrent lung infections from childhood may suggest cystic fibrosis or bronchiectasis; hay fever and eczema makes the chance of asthma more likely; heart attack, high blood pressure, rheumatic heart disease increase the risk of congestive cardiac failure.

  7. Medications?

    Why: E.g. ACE inhibitor blood pressure medications are well known to cause a cough.

  8. Family history?

    Why: e.g. asthma; cystic fibrosis; emphysema ( alpha 1- antitrypsin deficiency);anyone in the family had tuberculosis or a chronic cough.

  9. Cigarette smoking

    Why: past and present? - increases the risk of emphysema, chronic bronchitis, lung cancer, larynx cancer.

  10. Are you exposed to any smoke or fumes?
  11. Occupational history?

    Why: e.g. exposure to asbestos; miners exposure to coal dust or silica; aircraft makers and shipbuilders exposure to berylliosis and asbestosis; farmers exposure to bacteria in hay and causing "farmer's lung"; pigeon breeders exposed to protein from bird feathers and excreta causing "bird fancier's lung".

  12. Sputum production?

    Why: If there is sputum production, describe it? - e.g. copious amounts with offensive smell suggests bronchiectasis; pus-like sputum may suggest pneumonia, abscess, tuberculosis or bronchiectasis; yellow-green thick and sticky may suggest asthma; profuse and watery may suggest lung cancer; red-currant jelly may suggest lung cancer; pink and frothy may suggest left ventricular failure with pulmonary edema.

  13. Blood in sputum?

    Why: may suggest chronic bronchitis, tuberculosis, bronchiectasis, lung cancer, lung metastasis, foreign body, left ventricular failure and mitral stenosis.

  14. Wheeze?

    Why: usually suggests asthma but may also be chronic bronchitis, emphysema, foreign body, lung cancer, congestive heart failure.

  15. If has had a wheeze, have you had previous attacks of wheezing, hay fever or eczema?

    Why: more likely to suggest asthma as cause of chronic cough.

  16. Shortness of breath?

    Why: In acute cases may suggest congestive heart failure, pulmonary embolism and pneumonia. In chronic cases may suggest emphysema, chronic pulmonary fibrosis, chronic congestive heart failure, tuberculosis and lung cancer.

  17. Burning sensation in throat or chest when you cough?

    Why: may suggest gastro-esophageal reflux as cause of chronic cough.

  18. Weight loss?

    Why: may suggest lung cancer, laryngeal cancer, tuberculosis, cystic fibrosis.

  19. Swelling of the legs?

    Why: may suggest left ventricular heart failure.

  20. Stridor?

    Why: may suggest whooping cough, foreign body, cancer of the larynx, cancer of the trachea.

  21. Fever?

    Why: may suggest bacterial or viral pneumonia, tuberculosis, lung abscess, lung cancer or lung infarction.

  22. Leg swelling?

    Why: may suggest congestive heart failure.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Cough:

The following list of conditions have 'Cough' 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 Cough or choose View All.

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Conditions listing medical complications: Cough:

The following list of medical conditions have 'Cough' or similar listed as a medical complication in our database.


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