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Table 2 Key questions to ask when taking the medical history of patients with suspected asthma

From: Asthma

• Asthma symptoms (cough, wheeze, increased work of breathing)?
• Age of onset of symptoms?
• Timing of symptoms (day vs. night)?
• Is there a seasonal component to the worsening of symptoms?
• Possible triggers (viral infections, animal exposures, pollens, tobacco smoke, emotion)?
• Severity of symptoms (often reflected by unscheduled physician appointments at a walk-in clinic or emergency room, hospital admissions, and need for rescue oral corticosteroids)?
• Past investigations including chest X-rays, spirometry, allergy testing, sweat chloride testing?
• Other co-morbidities (e.g., food allergy, venom allergy)?
• Current and past treatments? Duration of use? Reasons for discontinuation?
• Barriers to treatment (cost of medication, proximity to health care providers)?
• Exposure to second- and third-hand (i.e., the lingering smell of tobacco smoke on clothing or in vehicles) tobacco smoke?
• Presence of household pets?
• Impact of the symptoms on the patient/family quality of life (missed time from activities, school or work due to asthma symptoms)?