Items in AFP with MESH term: Medical History Taking
Assessing Oral Malignancies - Article
ABSTRACT: Oral cancers account for approximately 3 percent of all cases of cancer in the United States. An estimated 30,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, and about one half of them will eventually die of the disease. The most common type of oral cancer is squamous cell carcinoma. Sixty percent of oral cancers are well advanced by the time they are detected, even though physicians and dentists frequently examine the oral cavity. The two most important risk factors for oral cancer are tobacco use and heavy alcohol consumption. The keys to reducing mortality are prevention and control. The earlier any intraoral or extraoral abnormalities or lesions are detected and biopsied, the more lives can be saved. Controversy exists whether screening programs effectively reduce the mortality rate. Specific step-by-step guidelines should be followed to perform an adequate examination of the head and neck.
Headaches in Children and Adolescents - Article
ABSTRACT: Headaches are common during childhood and become more common and increase in frequency during adolescence. The rational, cost-effective evaluation of children with headache begins with a careful history. The first step is to identify the temporal pattern of the headache--acute, acute-recurrent, chronic-progressive, chronic-nonprogressive, or mixed. The next step is a physical and neurologic examination focusing on the optic disc, eye movements, motor asymmetry, coordination, and reflexes. Neuroimaging is not routinely warranted in the evaluation of childhood headache and should be reserved for use in children with chronic-progressive patterns or abnormalities on neurologic examination. Once the headache diagnosis is established, management must be based on the frequency and severity of headache and the impact on the patient's lifestyle. Treatment of childhood migraine includes the intermittent use of oral analgesics and antiemetics and, occasionally, daily prophylactic agents. Often, the most important therapeutic intervention is confident reassurance about the absence of serious underlying neurologic disease.
ABSTRACT: Family physicians must proactively address the sexual health of their patients. Effective sexual health care should address wellness considerations in addition to infections, contraception, and sexual dysfunction. However, physicians consistently underestimate the prevalence of sexual concerns in their patients. By allocating time to discuss sexual health during office visits, high-risk sexual behaviors that can cause sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancies, and unhealthy sexual decisions may be reduced. Developing a routine way to elicit the patient's sexual history that avoids judgmental attitudes and asks the patient for permission to discuss sexual function will make it easier to gather the necessary information. Successful integration of sexual health care into family practice can decrease morbidity and mortality, and enhance well-being and longevity in the patient.
Evaluation of Dysuria in Adults - Article
ABSTRACT: Dysuria, defined as pain, burning, or discomfort on urination, is more common in women than in men. Although urinary tract infection is the most frequent cause of dysuria, empiric treatment with antibiotics is not always appropriate. Dysuria occurs more often in younger women, probably because of their greater frequency of sexual activity. Older men are more likely to have dysuria because of an increased incidence of prostatic hyperplasia with accompanying inflammation and infection. A comprehensive history and physical examination can often reveal the cause of dysuria. Urinalysis may not be needed in healthier patients who have uncomplicated medical histories and symptoms. In most patients, however, urinalysis can help to determine the presence of infection and confirm a suspected diagnosis. Urine cultures and both urethral and vaginal smears and cultures can help to identify sites of infection and causative agents. Coliform organisms, notably Escherichia coli, are the most common pathogens in urinary tract infection. Dysuria can also be caused by noninfectious inflammation or trauma, neoplasm, calculi, hypoestrogenism, interstitial cystitis, or psychogenic disorders. Although radiography and other forms of imaging are rarely needed, these studies may identify abnormalities in the upper urinary tract when symptoms are more complex.
Acute Dyspnea in the Office - Article
ABSTRACT: Respiratory difficulty is a common presenting complaint in the outpatient primary care setting. Because patients may first seek care by calling their physician's office, telephone triage plays a role in the early management of dyspnea. Once the patient is in the office, the initial goal of assessment is to determine the severity of the dyspnea with respect to the need for oxygenation and intubation. Unstable patients typically present with abnormal vital signs, altered mental status, hypoxia, or unstable arrhythmia, and require supplemental oxygen, intravenous access and, possibly, intubation. Subsequent management depends on the differential diagnosis established by a proper history, physical examination, and ancillary studies. Dyspnea is most commonly caused by respiratory and cardiac disorders. Other causes may be upper airway obstruction, metabolic acidosis, a psychogenic disorder, or a neuromuscular condition. Differential diagnoses in children include bronchiolitis, croup, epiglottitis, and foreign body aspiration. Pertinent history findings include cough, sore throat, chest pain, edema, and orthopnea. The physical examination should focus on vital signs and the heart, lungs, neck, and lower extremities. Significant physical signs are fever, rales, wheezing, cyanosis, stridor, or absent breath sounds. Diagnostic work-up includes pulse oximetry, complete blood count, electrocardiography, and chest radiography. If the patient is admitted to the emergency department or hospital, blood gases, ventilation-perfusion scan, D-dimer tests, and spiral computed tomography can help clarify the diagnosis. In a stable patient, management depends on the underlying etiology of the dyspnea.
Tension-Type Headache - Article
ABSTRACT: Tension-type headache typically causes pain that radiates in a band-like fashion bilaterally from the forehead to the occiput. Pain often radiates to the neck muscles and is described as tightness, pressure, or dull ache. Migraine-type features (unilateral, throbbing pain, nausea, photophobia) are not present All patients with frequent or severe headaches need careful evaluation to exclude any occult serious condition that may be causing the headache. Neuroimaging is not needed in patients who have no worrisome findings on examination. Treatment of tension-type headache typically involves the use of over-the-counter analgesics. Use of pain relievers more than twice weekly places patients at risk for progression to chronic daily headache. Sedating antihistamines or antiemetics can potentiate the pain-relieving effects of standard analgesics. Analgesics combined with butalbital or opiates are often useful for tension-type pain but have an increased risk of causing chronic daily headache. Amitriptyline is the most widely researched prophylactic agent for frequent headaches. No large trials with rigorous methodologies have been conducted for most non-medication therapies. Among the commonly employed modalities are biofeedback, relaxation training, self-hypnosis, and cognitive therapy.
ABSTRACT: The presence of family members at an office visit creates unique opportunities and challenges for the physician while interviewing the patient. The physician must address issues of confidentiality, privacy, and agency. Special skills are required to respectfully and efficiently involve family members, while keeping the patient at the center of the visit. A core set of interviewing skills exists for office visit interviews with family members present. These skills include building rapport with each participant by identifying their individual issues and perspectives, and encouraging participation by listening to and addressing the concerns of all persons. Physicians should also avoid triangulation, maintain confidentiality, and verify agreement with the plan. It may be necessary to use more advanced family interviewing skills, including providing direction despite problematic communications; managing conflict; negotiating common ground; and referring members to family therapy.
ABSTRACT: Diabetic neuropathy is a debilitating disorder that occurs in nearly 50 percent of patients with diabetes. It is a late finding in type 1 diabetes but can be an early finding in type 2 diabetes. The primary types of diabetic neuropathy are sensorimotor and autonomic. Patients may present with only one type of diabetic neuropathy or may develop combinations of neuropathies (e.g., distal symmetric polyneuropathy and autonomic neuropathy). Distal symmetric polyneuropathy is the most common form of diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy also can cause motor deficits, silent cardiac ischemia, orthostatic hypotension, vasomotor instability, hyperhidrosis, gastroparesis, bladder dysfunction, and sexual dysfunction. Strict glycemic control and good daily foot care are key to preventing complications of diabetic neuropathy.
Diagnostic Approach to Tinnitus - Article
ABSTRACT: Tinnitus is a common disorder with many possible causes. Most cases of tinnitus are subjective, but occasionally the tinnitus can be heard by an examiner. Otologic problems, especially hearing loss, are the most common causes of subjective tinnitus. Common causes of conductive hearing loss include external ear infection, cerumen impaction, and middle ear effusion. Sensorineural hearing loss may be caused by exposure to excessive loud noise, presbycusis, ototoxic medications, or Meniere's disease. Unilateral hearing loss plus tinnitus should increase suspicion for acoustic neuroma. Subjective tinnitus also may be caused by neurologic, metabolic, or psychogenic disorders. Objective tinnitus usually is caused by vascular abnormalities of the carotid artery or jugular venous systems. Initial evaluation of tinnitus should include a thorough history, head and neck examination, and audiometric testing to identify an underlying etiology. Unilateral or pulsatile tinnitus may be caused by more serious pathology and typically merits specialized audiometric testing and radiologic studies. In patients who are discomforted by tinnitus and have no remediable cause, auditory masking may provide some relief.
Diagnosing Heel Pain in Adults - Article
ABSTRACT: Heel pain is a common condition in adults that may cause significant discomfort and disability. A variety of soft tissue, osseous, and systemic disorders can cause heel pain. Narrowing the differential diagnosis begins with a history and physical examination of the lower extremity to pinpoint the anatomic origin of the heel pain. The most common cause of heel pain in adults is plantar fasciitis. Patients with plantar fasciitis report increased heel pain with their first steps in the morning or when they stand up after prolonged sitting. Tenderness at the calcaneal tuberosity usually is apparent on examination and is increased with passive dorsiflexion of the toes. Tendonitis also may cause heel pain. Achilles tendonitis is associated with posterior heel pain. Bursae adjacent to the Achilles tendon insertion may become inflamed and cause pain. Calcaneal stress fractures are more likely to occur in athletes who participate in sports that require running and jumping. Patients with plantar heel pain accompanied by tingling, burning, or numbness may have tarsal tunnel syndrome. Heel pad atrophy may present with diffuse plantar heel pain, especially in patients who are older and obese. Less common causes of heel pain, which should be considered when symptoms are prolonged or unexplained, include osteomyelitis, bony abnormalities (such as calcaneal stress fracture), or tumor. Heel pain rarely is a presenting symptom in patients with systemic illnesses, but the latter may be a factor in persons with bilateral heel pain, pain in other joints, or known inflammatory arthritis conditions.