Bronchitis is typically diagnosed through a combination of a physical examination, medical history, and diagnostic tests. Here are some of the common ways that bronchitis is diagnosed:
- Physical exam: Your doctor may listen to your lungs with a stethoscope and look for signs of inflammation, such as wheezing or crackling sounds.
- Medical history: Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, such as cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain. They may also ask about your medical history, including whether you smoke or have had previous lung infections.
- Chest X-ray: Your doctor may order a chest X-ray to rule out other conditions that may cause similar symptoms, such as pneumonia or lung cancer.
- Pulmonary function tests: These tests measure how well your lungs are working and can help your doctor determine the severity of your bronchitis.
- Sputum culture: If you have a productive cough, your doctor may collect a sample of your sputum (phlegm) and send it to a lab to check for bacteria or viruses.
- Blood tests: In some cases, blood tests may be used to check for signs of infection or inflammation.
Based on the results of these tests, your doctor can make a diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment for your bronchitis.