Precipitating Factors

All patients suspected of having asthma should be questioned about early warning signs and precipitating factors. Early warning signs of an attack include symptoms such as cough, scratchy throat, and nasal stuffiness, especially if an attack follows an upper respiratory tract infection. Many other precipitating factors can provoke asthma symptoms or an acute attack (Box 20-3). Identification of these precipitating factors can help patients manage their asthma by learning their early warning signs and avoiding any exposure that triggers an exacerbation. These symptoms and identification of triggers are the first stages of diagnosis of asthma.

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