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Shortness of breath from exercise Assessment Questionnaire

Questions Your Doctor May Ask - and Why!

During a consultation, your doctor will use various techniques to assess the symptom: Shortness of breath from exercise. 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 shortness of breath from exercise?

    Why: to determine if acute or chronic.

  2. What level of exercise is required to cause the shortness of breath?

    Why: can help determine severity of breathlessness e.g. shortness of breath with heavy exertion, moderate exertion, minimal exertion or at rest.

  3. How far can you walk before you get short of breath?
  4. How many steps can you climb before you get short of breath?
  5. Was the onset of shortness of breath from exercise sudden or gradual?

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

  6. Exercise history?

    Why: Shortness of breath on moderate exertion is not uncommon due to the combination of obesity and lack of physical fitness.

  7. Recent history of bleeding?

    Why: e.g. heavy periods with clots, vomiting blood, bloody stools, rectal bleeding - may suggest significant anemia as the cause for shortness of breath from exercise.

  8. Past Medical history?

    Why: previous respiratory illness (e.g. pneumonia, tuberculosis, chronic bronchitis); previous heart problems (heart disease, heart attack, heart valve disease); HIV infection ( at high risk for Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia); previous high blood pressure; deep venous thrombosis; Rheumatic fever.

  9. Medications?

    Why: many different medications can produce lung problems and resultant shortness of breath 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.

  10. Cigarette smoking?

    Why: number of packets per day and number of years you have smoked. Smoking is a major cause of lung cancer, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Passive smoking exposure is also regarded as a significant risk.

  11. Drug taking history?

    Why: cocaine, amphetamines or injected narcotic drugs can cause shortness of breath.

  12. 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. Heavy alcohol intake also predisposes to hypertensive heart disease and alcoholic cardiomyopathy, both of which may cause shortness of breath with exercise.

  13. 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.

  14. Family history?

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

  15. Cough?

    Why: may be due to lung or heart disease.

  16. Sputum

    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 be due to left ventricular heart failure; blood in sputum can be a serious sign of lung disease and must always be investigated.

  17. Audible wheeze?

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

  18. Chest pain?

    Why: may be due to lung or heart disease.

  19. Fever?

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

  20. Orthopnea (breathlessness lying down flat)?

    Why: suggests left ventricular heart failure.

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

    Why: suggests left ventricular failure.

  22. 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).

  23. Ankle swelling?

    Why: may suggest heart failure.

  24. Palpitations of the heart?

    Why: may indicate that heart arrhythmia may be the cause of breath problems.

  25. Fever and pus-like sputum?

    Why: suggests pneumonia.

  26. Chest pain with blood in sputum?

    Why: need to rule out pulmonary embolism.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Shortness of breath from exercise:

The following list of conditions have 'Shortness of breath from exercise' 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 Shortness of breath from exercise or choose View All.

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Conditions listing medical complications: Shortness of breath from exercise:

The following list of medical conditions have 'Shortness of breath from exercise' or similar listed as a medical complication in our database.


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