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Shallow breathing Assessment Questionnaire

Questions Your Doctor May Ask - and Why!

During a consultation, your doctor will use various techniques to assess the symptom: Shallow breathing. 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 shallow breathing?

    Why: to determine if acute or chronic.

  2. Was the onset of shallow breathing sudden or gradual?

    Why: if sudden consider adult respiratory distress syndrome, pulmonary embolism, pneumothorax, lung collapse or panic attack. If gradual onset, consider chronic diseases such as congestive cardiac failure, emphysema and fibrosis.

  3. What makes the shallow breathing worse?

    Why: e.g. exertion, laying flat in bed, anxiety, fear.

  4. Recent history of bleeding?

    Why: e.g. heavy periods with clots, vomiting blood, bloody stools, rectal bleeding - may suggest anemia as cause for the rapid shallow breathing.

  5. Current stressors?

    Why: e.g. interpersonal relationships, physical health, occupational stressors or financial worries - anxiety and panic states are usually in some understandable relationship to stressful life events. Anxiety and panic states may cause rapid shallow breathing.

  6. 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.

  7. Past psychiatric history?

    Why: e.g. panic attacks, anxiety.

  8. Medications?

    Why: many different medications can produce lung problems and shallow breathing (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.

  9. 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.

  10. Drug taking history?

    Why: cocaine and amphetamine intoxication can cause rapid shallow breathing.

  11. Alcohol history?

    Why: The drinking of large amounts of alcohol in binges can sometimes result in aspiration pneumonia. Alcoholics are also prone to develop pneumococcal or Klebsiella pneumonia.

  12. 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.

  13. Family history?

    Why: asthma, cystic fibrosis, emphysema, alpha-1-anti-typsin deficiency, tuberculosis, heart attacks, anxiety, panic disorder, heart attacks.

  14. Cough?
  15. Sputum

    Why: color and quantity? - e.g. large volume pus-like may suggest 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.

  16. Audible wheeze?

    Why: may suggest asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, airways obstruction (by a foreign body or tumor) or left ventricular heart failure.

  17. Chest pain?

    Why: may be due to lung or heart disease.

  18. Fever?

    Why: e.g. fever at night may suggest tuberculosis, pneumonia of mesothelioma ( tumor of lung lining due to asbestos exposure).

  19. Orthopnea (breathlessness lying down flat)?

    Why: suggests left ventricular heart failure.

  20. Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea (inappropriate severe breathlessness causing waking from sleep)?

    Why: suggests left ventricular failure.

  21. 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 such as epiglottitis.

  22. Ankle swelling?

    Why: may suggest heart failure.

  23. Palpitations of the heart?

    Why: may indicate that heart arrhythmia may be the cause of rapid breathing.

  24. Fever and pus-like sputum?

    Why: suggests pneumonia.

  25. Chest pain with blood in sputum?

    Why: need to rule out pulmonary embolism.

  26. Panic attacks?

    Why: recurrent panic attacks occur in Panic disorder and may cause sudden, unexpected, short-lived episodes of intense anxiety.

  27. Symptoms of anxiety?

    Why: e.g. nervousness, shakiness, tremor, restlessness, irritability, insomnia, poor concentration, heart palpitations, racing heart, sweating, dizziness, diarrhea, lump in throat, frequency of urination, shallow breathing.

  28. Phobias?

    Why: persistent, irrational fear with a compelling desire to avoid the object or situation occurs in Phobia disorders and may be confused with generalized anxiety disorder or be associated with anxiety.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Shallow breathing:

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

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