Respiratory Medicine - General Practice: The Integrative Approach . The human respiratory system is complex and finely tuned. Fortunately, two factors are of enormous benefit to us. First, there is a large reserve of function, greater than many of us are ever going to call upon; and secondly, the respiratory system can tolerate quite a degree of insult before symptoms appear. The predominant symptoms of respiratory problems that present to GPs are breathlessness , cough , sputum , wheeze and chest pain . Diagnosis is the important first step in medical practice, and the classic method of adequate history, appropriate physical examination, thinking about the clinical problem and then considering special investigations will clarify most situations. The four diagnoses that are most prominent and/or important in general practice are: asthma , chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer and infections .
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