Where is your pain or numbness? This obviously wouldn't work for more generalized symptoms like fatigue or shortness of breath.
How long have you had the symptom? If it's something intermittent -- like a spell of chest pain -- how often does it happen and how long does it last? Is it gradually getting worse? Getting better? Staying the same?
What were you doing when you first noticed the symptom? Were you just sitting there? Arguing with someone? This is particularly important if the patient is having dizziness, Ely noted.
Are any other symptoms associated with this one -- for example, light-headedness or shortness of breath?
What is the "quality" of the symptom -- what does it feel like? "Patients sometimes say to me, 'What do you mean? It's just a pain, doc.' Well, is it like an elephant stepping on your chest, a fire in your chest, someone stabbing you with an ice pick, or what? I want to stay open-ended as long as possible, so [I usually say] 'Just tell me ... what it feels like,'" said Ely.
What is the "quantity" of the symptom -- for example, how bad is it on a scale of 1 to 10?