NUR5 6512 Assessing Neurological Symptoms

NUR5 6512 Assessing Neurological Symptoms

NUR5 6512 Assessing Neurological Symptoms

Patient Information:

Initials: J.K.L             

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Age: 40 years

Sex: Female                           

Race: African American

Source: Patient


CC: “I have a headache around my forehead.”

HPI: J.K.L is a 40-year-old African American female who presents with a complaint of a headache across her forehead for a week. The headache is squeezing and feels like pressure behind the eyes. It is non-radiating. The headache is constant and varies in severity ranging from 2/10 at its best to 8/10 at its worst. It is usually worse in the morning and while bending. Acetaminophen reduces the severity of the headache to 4/10 and occasionally 2/10. It is associated with fever, postnasal drip, nasal congestion, sneezing, and occasional non-productive cough. She takes Sudafed HCL 120 mg every 12 hours to obtain some relief. The symptoms have significantly impaired her concentration at work and made her feel very tired. Finally, she reports a head cold three weeks ago.

Current Medications: Pseudoephedrine 120 mg BID for nasal congestion and acetaminophen for headaches.

Allergies: She has no known food and drug allergies.

Past Medical History: During her last visit to the primary care physician 2 months ago, she was noted to be prehypertensive and was advised on lifestyle modifications. No prior hospitalization. No previous surgeries or blood transfusions.

Social History: She is married with two children both alive and well. She works as a secretary Her husband is a college teacher. She neither drinks alcohol nor smokes tobacco. She does not use marijuana or other illicit drugs. She strictly adheres to dietary advice from her nutritionist and she exercises regularly. Denies caffeine intake.

Family History: Father alive aged 60 years and with hypertension while her mother is 58 years old alive and well. Her brother and sister are 35 and 20 years old respectively, alive and well. Her paternal grandfather died at the age of 80 years due to a heart attack while her paternal grandmother is 78 years and is hypertensive. Her maternal grandfather is 77 years with a history of type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol while her maternal grandmother died at the age of 70 years due to a stroke. No family history of malignancies, mental illness, asthma, sickle cell, or diabetes.

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GENERAL: Reports fatigue and occasional fever. Denies weight loss, night sweats, and chills.  

HEENT:  Reports headaches, nasal congestion, post nasal drip, and sneezing. No blurring of vision, visual loss, hearing loss, tinnitus, nose bleeds, ear pain, mouth sores, or sore throat.

SKIN:  no skin lesion or rashes. No abnormal pigmentation.

CARDIOVASCULAR: Negative for palpitations, chest pain, paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea, and peripheral limb edema.

RESPIRATORY:  Occasional non-productive cough. No difficulty in breathing, dyspnea, or orthopnea.

GASTROINTESTINAL: Reports loss of appetite and occasional nausea and vomiting. Denies change in bowel habits, abdominal pain, or distention.

GENITOURINARY: No frequency, dysuria, nocturia, and polyuria. No vaginal itchiness or abnormal vaginal discharge.

NEUROLOGICAL: Reports headache. Denies dizziness, lightheadedness, numbness, tingling, loss of sensation, syncope, and convulsion.

MUSCULOSKELETAL: No muscle pain, joint pains, muscle weakness, or muscle swelling.

HEMATOLOGIC:  No anemia, easy bruising, or bleeding.

LYMPHATICS: Normal lymph nodes

PSYCHIATRIC:  Denies anxiety, depression, suicidal ideations, or hallucinations.

ENDOCRINOLOGIC: Denies heat or cold intolerance, polyphagia, and polydipsia.

ALLERGIES:  Reports no allergies.


Physical exam:

VITAL SIGNS: BP 125/78 mmHg, HR 88 b/min, Temp 99. 8 F, RR 20 b/min, saturation 95% on room air, Height 168 cm, weight 76 Kg. Pain level 5/10

GENERAL: A middle-aged African-American female, well kempt, not in any form of respiratory distress but slight discomfort. Maintains eye contact, coherent speech, and a stable mood. Well-hydrated and nourished. No palmar or conjunctival pallor, jaundice, central or peripheral cyanosis, cervical or inguinal lymphadenopathy, and peripheral limb edema.

HEENT: Normocephalic and atraumatic head. Non-tender scalp. Bilateral eyes with pink conjunctiva and white sclera. Pupils equally and bilaterally reacting to light, no ptosis or lid edema. Normal extraocular movements. Bilateral ears present, no impaction or skin lesions, tympanic membrane pearly grey bilaterally, and positive white reflex. Both nares are present and are discharging mucus, midline nasal septum, and pink and soft nasal mucosa. Tender maxillary and frontal sinus. Moist and pink oral mucosa, no oral lesions or ulceration. Normal dentition and teeth alignment.

NECK: Soft neck. The trachea is central. Full range of motion, non-tender, no cervical lymphadenopathy, and no thyroid enlargement.

CARDIOVASCULAR: Regular heart rate. Normoactive precordium. Point of maximal impulse in the 5th intercostal space in the midclavicular line. S1 and S2 head, no murmurs, thrills, gallops, rubs, or heaves.

RESPIRATORY: Symmetrical chest that moves with respiration. No scars or skin lesions. Equal chest expansion and equal tactile fremitus bilaterally. Equal air entry, vesicular breath sounds, no wheezes, and crackles, and equal vocal fremitus in all lung zones.

NEUROLOGICAL: GCS 15/15, oriented to time, place, and person, intact short-term and long-term memory, good concentration, and a clear coherent speech. Cranial nerves 1 to 12 intact. Normotonic across all joints, normal bulk, and power 5/5 across all muscle groups in upper and lower extremities, deep tendon reflexes 2+ and equal bilaterally in upper and lower limbs. Intact monofilament sensation across all dermatomes, good bowel, and bladder function. No spinal tenderness, normal gait, coordination, graphesthesia, and stereognosis. Normal finger nose, heel to the shin, and rapid alternating movements tests.

Diagnostic results:

J.K.L appears to have an inflammatory/infectious condition. Consequently, complete blood count and inflammatory markers particularly CRP and ESR are paramount. Similarly, bacterial or fungal cultures obtained endoscopically or by direct sinus aspiration are required to identify the possible pathogen. Additionally, a skin prick test is essential to exclude allergic rhinitis. Imaging modalities principally Sinus CT and MRI are recommended to evaluate for rhinosinusitis and intraorbital or intracranial involvement.


Differential Diagnoses

Acute Sinusitis- refers to the inflammation of sinuses lasting less than 4 weeks (DeBoer & Kwon, 2022). The condition is more common in females and particularly during early fall to early spring (DeBoer & Kwon, 2022). It is most commonly caused by viral infection following a common cold although bacteria and fungi are not uncommon etiologies. J.K.L presents with clinical features that are typical of acute sinusitis including fatigue, fever, headache, facial pain, and pressure worse on bending (DeBoer & Kwon, 2022). Maxillary sinuses and frontal sinuses appear to be the affected sinuses in her as evidenced by pain around the forehead and tenderness of the maxillary and frontal sinuses (DeBoer & Kwon, 2022).

Rhinitis- Refers to the inflammation of the nasal mucosa. J.K.L presents with clinical manifestations suggestive of rhinitis including sneezing, nasal congestion, postnasal drip, and rhinorrhea (Liva et al., 2021). Similarly, she reports a “head cold” three weeks ago. Rhinitis is mostly caused by an upper respiratory infection or type 1 hypersensitivity reaction (Liva et al., 2021). However, an upper respiratory tract infection is likely the cause in her case.

Cluster headache- Cluster headache is a type of primary headache that is usually unilateral retro-orbital and characterized by sharp and stabbing pain (Goadsby et al., 2018). Cluster headache may present with symptoms of lacrimation, nasal congestion, rhinorrhea, ptosis, or miosis (Goadsby et al., 2018). However, it is unlikely the diagnosis in her as cluster headache usually lasts for a brief period. Similarly, cluster headaches mostly awake the patient at night.

Migraine headache- Migraine headache is another type of primary headache that may be preceded with or without aura. It is usually pulsating and moderate to severe (Pescador Ruschel & O, 2022). It is common in young women. However, it is unlikely the diagnosis as migraines last 4 to 72 hours if untreated and are typically associated with nausea, vomiting, photophobia, and phonophobia (Pescador Ruschel & O, 2022).

Rebound headache– Commonly referred to as medication overuse headache. Rebound headache predominantly occurs in individuals with primary headaches who overuse analgesia (Micieli & Robblee, 2018). Rebound headaches are more common in females and individuals less than 50 years. Drugs precipitating this headache include barbiturates, acetaminophen, opioids, ergotamine, and triptans (Micieli & Robblee, 2018). However, this is an unlikely diagnosis in J.K.L as a diagnosis of primary headache hasn’t been established.


DeBoer, D. L., & Kwon, E. (2022). Acute Sinusitis.

Goadsby, P., Wei, D.-T., & Yuan Ong, J. (2018). Cluster headache: Epidemiology, pathophysiology, clinical features, and diagnosis. Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology21(5), 3.

Liva, G. A., Karatzanis, A. D., & Prokopakis, E. P. (2021). Review of rhinitis: Classification, types, pathophysiology. Journal of Clinical Medicine10(14), 3183.

Micieli, A., & Robblee, J. (2018). Medication-overuse headache. Journal de l’Association Medicale Canadienne [Canadian Medical Association Journal]190(10), E296–E296.

Pescador Ruschel, M., & O, D. J. (2022). Migraine Headache.

CC (chief complaint) a BRIEF statement identifying why the patient is here – in the patient’s own words – for instance “headache”, NOT “bad headache for 3 days”.

HPI: This is the symptom analysis section of your note. Thorough documentation in this section is essential for patient care, coding, and billing analysis. Paint a picture of what is wrong with the patient. Use LOCATES Mnemonic to complete your HPI. You need to start EVERY HPI with age, race, and gender (e.g., 34-year-old AA male). You must include the seven attributes of each principal symptom in paragraph form not a list. If the CC was “headache”, the LOCATES for the HPI might look like the following example:

Location: head

Onset: 3 days ago

Character: pounding, pressure around the eyes and temples

Associated signs and symptoms: nausea, vomiting, photophobia, phonophobia

Timing: after being on the computer all day at work

Exacerbating/ relieving factors: light bothers eyes, Aleve makes it tolerable but not completely better

Severity: 7/10 pain scale

Current Medications: include dosage, frequency, length of time used and reason for use; also include OTC or homeopathic products.

Allergies: include medication, food, and environmental allergies separately (a description of what the allergy is ie angioedema, anaphylaxis, etc. This will help determine a true reaction vs intolerance).

PMHx: include immunization status (note date of last tetanus for all adults), past major illnesses and surgeries. Depending on the CC, more info is sometimes needed

Soc Hx: include occupation and major hobbies, family status, tobacco & alcohol use (previous and current use), any other pertinent data. Always add some health promo question here – such as whether they use seat belts all the time or whether they have working smoke detectors in the house, living environment, text/cell phone use while driving, and support system.

Fam Hx: illnesses with possible genetic predisposition, contagious or chronic illnesses. Reason for death of any deceased first degree relatives should be included. Include parents, grandparents, siblings, and children. Include grandchildren if pertinent.

ROS: cover all body systems that may help you include or rule out a differential diagnosis You should list each system as follows: General: Head: EENT: etc. You should list these in bullet format and document the systems in order from head to toe.

Example of Complete ROS:

GENERAL:  No weight loss, fever, chills, weakness or fatigue.

HEENT:  Eyes:  No visual loss, blurred vision, double vision or yellow sclerae. Ears, Nose, Throat:  No hearing loss, sneezing, congestion, runny nose or sore throat.

SKIN:  No rash or itching.

CARDIOVASCULAR:  No chest pain, chest pressure or chest discomfort. No palpitations or edema.

RESPIRATORY:  No shortness of breath, cough or sputum.

GASTROINTESTINAL:  No anorexia, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. No abdominal pain or blood.

GENITOURINARY:  Burning on urination. Pregnancy. Last menstrual period, MM/DD/YYYY.

NEUROLOGICAL:  No headache, dizziness, syncope, paralysis, ataxia, numbness or tingling in the extremities. No change in bowel or bladder control.

MUSCULOSKELETAL:  No muscle, back pain, joint pain or stiffness.

HEMATOLOGIC:  No anemia, bleeding or bruising.

LYMPHATICS:  No enlarged nodes. No history of splenectomy.

PSYCHIATRIC:  No history of depression or anxiety.

ENDOCRINOLOGIC:  No reports of sweating, cold or heat intolerance. No polyuria or polydipsia.

ALLERGIES:  No history of asthma, hives, eczema or rhinitis.


Physical exam: From head-to-toe, include what you see, hear, and feel when doing your physical exam. You only need to examine the systems that are pertinent to the CC, HPI, and History. Do not use “WNL” or “normal.” You must describe what you see. Always document in head to toe format i.e. General: Head: EENT: etc.

Diagnostic results: Include any labs, x-rays, or other diagnostics that are needed to develop the differential diagnoses (support with evidenced and guidelines)


Differential Diagnoses (list a minimum of 3 differential diagnoses).Your primary or presumptive diagnosis should be at the top of the list. For each diagnosis, provide supportive documentation with evidence based guidelines.


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