If you have symptoms of bronchitis, you should go see your doctor or book an appointment at an urgent care clinic. Your healthcare provider will start by asking you questions about your symptoms and your medical history.
From there, your doctor will perform a physical exam, and listen to your breathing. The way that your lung sounds can provide a clue about the underlying cause of your symptoms.
If your doctor suspects bronchitis, they may also recommend the following tests:
- Sputum culture. If you are coughing up mucus, your doctor may take a sample and analyze it in a lab. This can be used to diagnose a lung infection and specify the cause.
- Chest X-ray. An X-ray uses high-energy beams to create a picture of your body. Your doctor will not be able to see bronchitis on the x-ray. However, they will be able to rule out other lung problems like pneumonia and lung cancer.
- Lung function test. This test measures how much air your lungs can hold and how well you can inhale and exhale. Generally, this involves breathing into and out of a machine while following a doctor’s instructions. Your doctor can use this information to help rule out other conditions, like asthma and emphysema.