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The clinical presentation of respiratory disease 

The clinical presentation of respiratory disease
The clinical presentation of respiratory disease

Samuel Kemp

, and Julian Hopkin

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date: 28 February 2021

Respiratory disease can present in many ways, with variations attributable to many factors. The clinical presentation directs diagnostic hypothesis making, the choice of diagnostically discriminating investigations, and the most appropriate management. If a detailed history is not taken, the patient not observed carefully and examined diligently, and the information from these sources is not analysed correctly, then inappropriate investigation and management is likely. Common symptoms of respiratory disease are breathlessness, cough, haemoptysis, and pleuritic chest pain, details of which can point to particular diagnoses. An account of environmental exposures at work and home, and of family history, is critically important in some cases. In chronic respiratory disease, where breathlessness and disability are to be assessed, walking with the patient and observing exercise tolerance and distress (and pulse oximetry) can provide valuable information.

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