FEVER

a.
b.
c.
d.
e.

When did it start/ how long has it been? (Long duration – HIV)
Is it high grade or low grade?
Is it continuous, remittent or intermittent?
Is it assoc with chills and rigors?
Is it worse at night, day or morning or none?
Is there any assoc convulsion? (Meningitis)
Is there any relieving factor – Tepid sponging, exposure, fanning or drugs (antipyretics).
Is there any assoc headache (meningitis)
Is there any assoc vomiting (meningitis – clerk this)
Is there any assoc cough (clerk this)
Is there any associated body weakness.
* Long duration (> 1 month), high grade, continuous, not worse at any time of the day
>>>>> HIV
* Long duration (> 1 month), low grade, continuous, assoc drenching night sweats,
cough of long duration, productive of sputum which may be bloody >>>>> TB
* Short duration, high grade, continuous, assoc chills and rigor, vomiting, headache,
temporarily relieved by antipyretic >>>>Meningitis
* Short duration, high grade, continuous, assoc chills and rigors, cough which may be
assoc chest pain >>>> Pneumonia
*High grade, intermittent, worse in the evening, assoc with chills and rigors, weakness,
malaise and body aches, temporarily relieved by antipyretics >>>>> Malaria

COUGH
-

How long has it been?
Is it productive of sputum or not?
What is the color – blood stained or whitish or yellowish?
What is the consistency – mucoid, very thick, or jelly-like or frothy.
What is the odour like – fowl smelling or odourless
How much sputum is produced – copious or small (estimate it)
Any effect to change in posture with the sputum production (lung abscess,
bronchiectasis)
Is it blood stained?
For how long have you seen the blood?
Is it fresh blood or altered blood.
How often is it seen in the sputum – is it with every sputum or atimes >>> to estimate
severity and extent of blood loss.

a.
b.
c.
d.
e.

Any assoc bleed or melaena (altered blood in stool) – to know if the blood is from the
upper resp tract or GIT
Is it worse at night (heart failure) or day.
Is it paroxysmal (impt in children b/cos of whooping cough) or not.
Is there assoc vomiting (post tussive vomiting)
Is it aggravated by anything (Asthma) e.g. pollen, dust or cold
Is there any relieving factor.
Any Hx of contact with adult with chronic cough (PTB)
Is there assoc breathlessness – if so take it up to the presenting complaint and analyze it
Is there associated orthopnea, fast breathing or PND – to r/o CVS causes
Is there associated fever( infective causes)
Is there an associated night sweat (PTB)
Is there associated weight loss (PTB, HIV)
Is there associated chest pain (pneumonia)
Frothy sputum (LV failure)
Thick sputum (asthma)
Rusty brown sputum ( pneumonia)
Copious mucoid sputum(chronic bronchitis)
Copious foul smelling sputum (bronchiectasis, lung abscess)

BREATHLESSNESS (FAST BREATHING)
-

-

How long did it start and for how long now
Is it worse at rest or on exertion (heart failure)
If worse on exertion, how long can pt be able to walk before it comes (estimate the
distance to know if it is worse on mild, moderate or severe exertion) for children that
suckle, how long can pt suckle breast before removing his mouth to rest i.e. does pt tire
easily.
Has it been progressive since onset (heart failure)
Is it persistent or intermittent (good and bad days as in asthmatics)
Any aggravating or relieving factors
Is it worse eat any time of the day – worse at night mainly in asthmatics
Can patient lie flat on bed or with pillow ( if with pillow, how many pillows) or any
preference for posture while sleeping(i.e. check for orthopnea-mainly In heart failure)
Does patient wake up at night gasping for breath (PND)
Is there associated weight loss (FTT because of increased energy expenditure from
respiratory effort seen in asthma and emphysema)

-

Is there associated body swelling (heart failure)
Is there associated squatting with exertion ( TOF)
Is there associated wheezing (asthma)
Is there associated bluish discoloration of the lips, tongue and palms (TOF,asthma,
heart failure)
Is there associated restlessness from hunger and hypoxia as in VSD pt
Associated chest tightedness (asthma, emphysema)
Associated orthopnea, PND, body swelling (heart failure)
Associated aggravating factors, worse at night or early morning, associated wheezy
breathing, chest tightedness, FTT (asthma)

VOMITING
-

-

Is it projectile or not
Is it with effort or effortless i.e. any retching
What is the content of the vomitus-recently ingested food, bile stained, blood stained (
if so fresh or altered blood i.e. coffee appearance
What is the consistency- does it contain mucus
What is the odor-is it odorless or foul smelling
How many times has patient vomited and the number of times pt has vomited on the
day you are clerking
What is the volume in each episode and total volume that has already vomited-estimate
the volume in liters or mls with containers or cups around to check their complication
like dehydration
Is there any aggravating or relieving factors
Is there associated weakness (dehydration)
Is there associated decreased opening of bowel (constipation)
Is there associated fever (infective process-gastroenteritis)

DIARRHEA
-

Duration (greater than one month – HIV)
How many times does patient open bowel in a day
Is it copious or scanty volume (estimate as in vomiting)
How is the odour –odourless or offensive (infective process)
What is the color of the stool-pale putty like or porridge like and frothy (steatorrhoea)
Does it contain blood-infective or may not be

-

1. Is it fresh or altered blood
2. Is it mixed with the stool or not
3. Does it come immediately with the stool or thought or after passage of the stool
Does it contain mucus or is it slimy (infective diarrhea)
Does it contain pus (infective diarrhea)
Is there associated fever
Any associated abdominal pain, it there is characterize it
Is there associated weakness or abdominal distension or tenesmus (amoebic dysentery)
Is there associated abd pain, fever, mucus, or blood – infective diarrhea(gastroenteritis)

SEIZURE
-

Is the patient a known epileptic or is it recurrent
If a known epileptic is patient compliant with his drugs and check up
What was patient doing when it started
What part of the body is affected or is it the whole body; did it start from one part and
later affect other parts of the body or became generalized
Is it tonic or clonic or tonic clonic or atonic
Does patient have any signs before it occurs (aura)
How many episodes so far has patient had
How long does each episode last
When was the last episode and describe it if many episodes but if only one episode,
describe it asking further questions such as
1. Is only one side of the body affected (partial seizures)
2. Is there associated loss of consciousness or not
3. Does patient sleep immediately after(post ictal sleep)
4. Is there loss of sphincteric tone
5. Is there associated foaming from the mouth
6. Is there associated loud cry or shout before onset
7. Is there associated up rolling of the eyes and blinking of eyelids
8. Is there associated stertorous breathing
9. Is there associated fumbling of hands, tongue biting or lip smacking
10. Is there associated fall or headache after each episode
11. What time of the day is it more

Rule out other causes of seizures which include

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.

Fever (cerebral malaria)
Trauma (RTA, fall from a height, fight etc)
Complications of DM (DKA, Hypoglycemia)
Is patient a known diabetic
Is he compliant with his drugs and check ups
Symptoms of DKA such as abd pain, altered sensorium, vomiting, signs of dehydration
Symptoms of hypoglycemia such as anxiety, sweating, tremors, altered sensorium
Is patient a known hypertensive and if so is he compliant with his drugs and checkups
(r/o hypertensive encephalopathy)
Is there associate headache preceding the onset 0 r/o increased ICP or are there signs of
increased ICP such as headaches, vomiting, altered sensorium, etc
Is there any sign of liver failure (ask for hx of jaundice)
Any symptoms of renal CRF (r/o uremic encephalopathy)
Is patient on any drugs (r/o drug induced seizures)
Does patient sleep well

EDEMA (BODY SWELLING)
-

How was It noticed or who noticed it
Where did it start from or what part of the body was first affected
Is it rapid or gradual in development
Is it localized or generalized at onset or localized and later became generalized and how
did it spread
Is it bilateral or unilateral
Is it there all the time or disappears as the day goes by and later reappears
At what time of the day is it worse
Is it pitting or non pitting
Is there any aggravating or relieving factor such as change in position, movement or rest
Is there any associated change in urine volume or color
Is there any associated urine changes and are the changes gradual or sudden in onset
Is there any previous hx of sore throat or skin infections
Any hx of fever to r/o recent malaria attack or malaria infection (glomerulonephritis)
Any hx of use of herbal medication (toxic nephropathy)
Any hx of use of medicated soaps containing heavy metals e.g. mercury, lead
Any associated flank pain (pyelonephritis)
Any hx of drug ingestion e.g. analgesics, amino glycosides, NSAIDS
Any hx of anorexia, vomiting and weakness (uremia, heart failure)

-

-

Any associated hx of bee or insect sting or bite (toxic nephropathy)
R/O hepatic causes by asking for hx of jaundice, anorexia and symptoms of
complications of hepatic encephalopathy
R/O CCF by asking for
1. Hx of cough as before
2. Hx of breathlessness as before
3. Symptoms suggestive of hypertensive heart dx
In established case of CRF, look out for complications
1. Uremic encephalopathy – asterixis, altered consciousness
2. Gastritis
3. Renal osteodystrophy
4. Anaemia

WEIGHT LOSS
-

What makes patient feel he is losing weight (evidence of looseness of previously tight
clothing, belt, rings or bony prominences)
Any symptoms suggestive of DM (polyuria, polydypsia, polyphagia)
Any symptoms suggestive of HIV infection ( persistent fever, chronic diarrhea, chronic
cough)
What is the feeding habit of the patient (does he feed well)
Any symptoms suggestive of heart disease (cough, breathlessness, PND, orthopnea)
Any symptoms suggestive of malignancy ( cough, swelling in any part of the body, signs
of metastasis)
Any symptoms suggestive of malabsorption syndrome ( persistent diarrhea,
steatorrhoea, persistent vomiting)
Symptoms suggestive of respiratory disease ( hx of cough , pt is a known asthmatic, hx
of night sweats or hemoptysis)
Symptoms suggestive of thyrotoxicosis (irritability, prominences of the eye, awareness
of heart beat, heat intolerance).

PAIN
-

Where is the pain located (point with a finger if possible)
Does it radiate to any place or not

-

Does it interfere with your daily activity or keeps you awake all night
Does the pain come and go or is it there all the time
Has it changed since it started
What is the nature of the pain (stabbing, burning, gnawing, colicky, waxes and wanes
etc)
Is there anything that aggravated it or makes it worse such as food
What relieves the pain e.g. change in position, eating (duodenal ulcer), starvation
(gastric ulcer), defecation or passage of flatus (lower GI pains), rest (cardiac pain),
bending forward (pericardial pain), belching (gastro esophageal reflux), drugs (
musculoskeletal pain), antacids (GU,DU)

MASS/SWELLING
-

When was it noticed and by who
What made patient notice it
Has it been increasing in size since noticed
How rapid is the growth since it was noticed or has it be been gradual
Is it tender to touch or painful – if painful, characterize it as before
Is it warm to touch
What is the consistency – hard, fluctuant or soft
Is it mobile or attached underlying structures or skin
Any associated changes in the color of overlying skin
Any associated swelling in other parts of the body
Any associated bone pain or weight loss
Any associated fever
Other associations will depend on the site of the mass

JAUNDICE
-

r/o hemolytic causes by asking for hx of SCD, fever, change in urine color, drug
ingestion, blood transfusion, past hx of similar episode in the past
r/o hepatic causes by asking for hx of body itching, loss of appetite, change in stool
color, abd pain, source of water, family hx of hep A, drug injections, sexual affairs
hx of neonatal jaundice
r/o hereditary causes by asking for bone pain, swelling in any part of the body
hx of contact with patient with yellowness of the eye to r/o hep A virus

CVA
-

ISCHEMIC CVA
How was the neurological deficit first noticed
Was it sudden or insidious in onset
What was the patient doing at time of onset
Is there associated headaches, seizures or loss of consciousness
r/o risk factors for atherosclerosis – is patient hypertensive, diabetic, a smoker, an
elderly person, heavy drinker
is patient a known SCD sufferer
is patient a known cardiac disease patient; if yes ask for palpitations, edema, cough,
breathlessness, PND, orthopnea in the past or presently
is patient on any drugs
is there associated vomiting (ICH, SAH)
is there associated collapse (SAH)
is there associated rapid recovery of symptoms
Are there associated neurological signs
Is there any previous hx of TIA
Any hx of trauma (ICH)
Sexual hx to r/o STDs

-

Symptoms suggestive of embolic CVA – sudden onset, headaches, seizures, loss of
consciousness, rapid recovery

-

Symptoms suggestive of SAH – dramatic onset, ppt by activity, thunderclap headaches
wc may be occipital or temporal, collapse after activity, no associated neurological signs,
associated neck stiffness, loss of consciousness, vomiting, raised BP

-

Symptoms suggestive of ICH – sudden onset, headache, vomiting, loss of consciousness,
no neck stiffness, may be associated with stress

-

Symptoms suggestive of thrombotic CVA – slow development of symptoms, no
headaches, pt at rest or relaxing, no loss of consciousness or associated hx of seizures,
presence of risk factors for atherosclerosis

HEADACHES
Tension headaches
- Is it associated with stress and worries
- Is it pressing or banding in character often found at the back of the head from where it
radiates to the neck
- Poorly relieved by analgesia
- Is it less during the early parts of the day and worse as the day goes on
- It is not aggravated by coughing, bending down or straining at stool
Vascular headaches
- Throbbing in character
- Associated with infections such as malaria, typhoid, epileptic fits, trauma, ingestion of
alcohol, or use of vasodilators
- Typically confined to one side of the head
Headaches due to increased ICP
- Increased respiration occurs in short bursts lasting from a few seconds to a few hours
- Occurs mostly at night or in the early stages of the early morning
- Progressive increase in freq until it may become continuous
- Aggravated by coughing, staining at stool, bending down or sudden change in position
- Vomiting may occur esp. at night or early morning when headache is severe
- Relived by analgesia
Headache due to inflammation esp. meningitis
- Generalized headaches worsened by head movts, coughing or patient may be drowsy
and unconscious
Referred headache
- Headache occurs over the eyes, sinuses, frontal area, maxillary area
- Worse after reading and may occur over the frontal area and spread to the occiput or
vertex
- May be due to dx of the teeth or ear or the mzls of the neck and spine

Migraine headache
- Non specific prodrome of malaise, irritability followed by an aura of focal neurological
signs, a severe hemispherical headache, photophobia and vomiting.
- During the headache phase, patient prefers to be quiet in a dark room and go to sleep

DIABETES MELLITUS
Polydypsia polyuria, polyphagia, weight loss, body weakness, boils, ulcers, vulva itching, symptoms of
peripheral neuropathy e.g. numbness, pain, burning sensation, nephropathy

To assess control if patient is a known diabetic
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Are you a known diabetic?
If so, what drug are you on (oral or insulin)
What is the dosage of the drug?
Are you compliant with the drugs (check ups)?
Any dietary control? If so which ones?

To make a diagnosis or to rule out DM as a differential
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.

Do you have an increased rate of eating without a corresponding increase in weight.
Any history of weight loss as evidenced by what?
Any increase in thirst/drinking much fluid?
Any increase in frequency of urination or volume of urine?
Do you stay long in cold environment?
Any history of trauma to the head- to rule out diabetes insipidus?
Any history of abdominal surgery in the past? R/o pancreatic damage.

To rule out DM complications
13.
14.
15.
16.
17.
18.
19.
20.
21.

Any blurring of vision (DM retinopathy) or double vision (CN 4 and 6).
Any decrease in frequency or volume of urine ( nephropathy) or ankle swelling?
Any numbness or burning or painful sensation on the limbs.
Any feeling of walking on pebbles, cotton wool or slipping off of shoes without knowing?
Any ulcer in any part of the body?
Any boils or body itching/vulval itching or furuncles?
Any difficulty in swallowing (due to oesophageal atony)?
Any feeling of abdominal fullness (easy satiety)?
Any vomiting, constipation or diarrhea (nocturnal diarrhea)?

22. Any erectile dysfunction in male?
23. Any facial swelling while eating (gustatory sweating) or drenching night sweating? (last 5 assess
autonomic neuropathy 16 and 17 immunosuppression. They are all complications.)

CCF
PC: dyspnoea, breathlessness, fatigue, orthopnoea, PND, cough, hemoptysis, effort intolerance,
ankle edema.
HPC
- is there any hx of palpitations or headaches (htn)
- is patient a known hypertensive, if so, is he compliant with his drugs and clinics
- Any hx of chest pain, if so, characterize it (r/o angina, MI, pericarditis)
- Any hx of body weakness or difficulty/shortness of breath (r/o anaemia)
- Any hx of sore throat in the past (r/o rheumatic heart dx)
- Any hx of significant alcohol ingestion (r/o alcoholic heart dx)
- Any hx of smoking (r/o atherosclerosis and its complications)
- Any hx suggestive of DM (polyuria, polyphagia, polydypsia) to r/o atherosclerosis
- Any hx of heat intolerance, irritability, weight loss, prominence of the eye balls (r/o
thyrotoxicosis)
Summary of conditions to rule out in heart failure
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.

Hypertension
Angina pectoris
Myocardial infarction
Pericarditis
Anaemia
Rheumatic heart disease
Alcoholic heart dx
Atherosclerosis
Thyrotoxicosis

PULMONARY TUBERCULOSIS
PC: fever (low grade), cough, weight loss, haemoptysis (>1 month)
HPC
-

Explore the fever and cough as above (r/o chronic bronchitis, asthma, bronchiectasis,
lung abscess)

-

Explore the weight loss as above to r/o DM, HIV, heart dx, malignancy, malabsorption
syndrome, respiratory dx, thyrotoxicosis and good nutrition.
Rule out immunosuppresion that can reactivate primary TB ( HIV, DM, Cytotoxic drugs,
long term steroid therapy)
If there is associated night sweats r/o other causes of night sweats e.g. lymphomas by
asking for hx of pruritus
Any hx of contact with someone with chronic cough or if patient lives in an overcrowded
environment
If pt presents with hemoptysis, ask where pt came from to r/o paragonomiasis
If associated with drenching night sweats r/o lymphoma by asking for hx of body itching,
swelling in the neck

PARKINSONISM
PC: tremor, rigidity, hypokinesia, other vague symptoms such as aches, pains, tiredness.
HPC
-

-

Find out if patient has tremors at rest or intention
Where did the tremors start (for parkinsonism, it starts at the fingers, foot, lips)
Is tremor of pill rolling type
Does the tremor disappear during sleep
Is there associated muscle rigidity
If yes, where did the rigidity start (usually at the wrist for parkinsonism)
Is there any difficulty in movement
If yes, how did it progress ( for parkinsonism, there is poverty of movt, then difficulty in
walking to no walking at all then to inability to get up from bed to inability to even turn
in bed
If pt is walking, does he swing his arm
Any associated difficulty in swallowing, slow chewing or drooling of saliva
Any associated difficulty with speech (dysarthria)
If patient is literate, any change in hand writing (micrographia)
Any change in patients walking steps (shuffling gait)
Any hx of fever (r/o viral infections and encephalitis lethargica)
Any hx of trauma (r/o punch drunk syndrome)
Is pt hypertensive, diabetic or a smoker (r/o atherosclerosis)
What is pt occupation (r/o poisons as a cause e.g. Wilson’s disease)
Any hx of confusion, seizures, psychiatric symptoms (r/o SOL )

-

Any hx of STD in the past (r/o syphilis)
Any hx of heat intolerance, wgt loss (thyrotoxicosis)

Remember the following signs
-

Expressionless face
Stell wag’s sign
Glabella tap (meryeson’s sign)
Festinant gait
Kaysor-fleisschers
Corneal arcus

HIV
PC: fever, cough, weight loss
Counseling in HIV
-

Fear and stigmata associated with the dx
Adequate dietary intake
Proper health care in case of any illness
Regular exercise
Avoid alcohol, smoking, hard drugs, narcotics etc
Patient should not receive any live vaccines
Partner notification
Use of condoms and other forms of protection
Treat any concurrent infection appropriately
Psychological support

CHRONIC LEG ULCER
-

Where is the site of the ulcer
How did it start or how was it noticed
Has it been increasing in size and shape
Is there associated pain (r/o any inflammatory process)
Any difficulty in movement of the joints around the ulcer(to assess severity)

-

Any associated discharge, if so, characterize it (color, volume, blood stained)
Any itching at site of ulcer (to r/o guinea worm)
………
………
Any dilated peripheral veins on the the leg (r/o venous ulcers)
Any hx of fever, cough, night sweats or contact with person with chronic cough (r/o TB
ulcers)
Any hx of trauma (r/o traumatic ulcers)
Any hx of polyuria, polyphagia, polydypsia and weight loss (r/o DM)
If patient is a known diabetic, what drugs is he on and how compliant is he to therapy
Any hx of calf muscle pains –intermittent claudication- to r/o arterial ulcers
Is patient a known smoker, hypertensive, or diabetic(r/o atherosclerosis)
Any hx of prolonged immobility ( r/o pressure ulcers)
Any hx of weight loss, swelling in any part of the body, bone pains (r/o malignancy)
Any hx of loss of sensation around the leg (r/o neuropathic ulcers)
Is patient a known sickler (r/o sickle ulcers)
Any hx of STD in the past with ulcers in other parts of the body (r/o syphilitic ulcers)

Differentials of ulcers
Guinea worm, varicose veins, trauma, DM, TB, atherosclerosis, pressure ulcers, malignancy,
leprosy, sickle cell anaemia, STDs (syphilis), Multiple myeloma

EXAMINATION
General
Musculoskeletal System: Ulcer examination
Other systems (digestive, CVS, respiratory)
Investigations
Wound swab, Mantoux test, FBC, ESR, urinalysis, VDRL, FBS, CXR, genotype, lipid profile, SEUCr,
HIV screening

NEPHROTIC SYNDROME
PC: anuria, oliguria, edema, body swelling, uremic symptoms
-

Explore the body swelling as above
How long ago was it noticed ( >3months CRF, <3months ARF)
Any signs and symptoms of anaemia
Is patient a known hypertensive or diabetic (nephropathy)
Any hx of strenuous exercise, trauma or beating (r/o myoglobinuria)
Is pt a known HIV patient
Any hx of drug ingestion or herbal drug use
Is there any change in consciousness, altered sensorium such as altered sleep pattern,
memory impairment, coma etc
Any hx of nausea, vomiting or anorexia
Any hx of chest pain (uraemic pericarditis)
Any hx epigastric pain (uraemic gastritis)
Any hx of body itching
Any hx of numbness, pain, burning sensation on the limbs (peripheral neuropathy)
Any hx of generalized body weakness