Acute Bronchitis

Medically reviewed by Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

Bronchitis Diagnosis

Bronchitis test

There is no test that specifically indicates whether someone has bronchitis. In order for a formal diagnosis11 to take place, your provider will need to perform a physical examination and check your medical history.

If they have any concerns about any of your symptoms, a chest X-ray may be conducted to rule out other diseases. An X-ray may detect conditions such as heart problems, a collapsed lung, pneumonia, broken ribs, emphysema, and cancer.

What does an X-ray do?

An x-ray12 takes an image of your bones, organs and internal tissues. In a person with pneumonia, the X-ray may indicate differences in density between the two branches of the lung.

This is particularly important to monitor any damage that may have been done to your lungs if you are or have ever been a smoker.

Other bronchitis tests that may be used are as follows:

  • Pulse oximetry: This is a simple technique that measures the amount of oxygen flowing through the blood through a small sensor placed on the patient’s finger. It doesn’t hurt at all and gives an instant result. Your provider can use the data to check whether or not there are sufficient levels of oxygen flowing through your body and if further medical support is required.
  • Taking samples: Samples of sputum and nasal discharge may be collected and analyzed to find out what is causing the infection.
  • Pulmonary function test: A spirometer may be used to measure lung capacity and volume in order to diagnose asthma or emphysema (or to monitor changes if patients have already received a diagnosis of these conditions). If there is a significant drop in lung capacity, your provider will be able to advise you as to whether or not further treatment is required.

Remember if you have any concerns about your health, do inform your provider so that they can diagnose and treat your condition in a timely manner.

Is there a bronchitis cure?

As most cases are caused by a virus, there is no specific treatment for bronchitis13. Self-care techniques such as getting plenty of rest, drinking fluids and using a humidifier may help to keep the air moist and alleviate your symptoms.

A provider may prescribe:

  • Cough medicine: to help with going to sleep at night. However, not all providers advise on this as coughing is an important way of removing mucus and irritants from the lungs.
  • Inhalers: Bronchodilators open the bronchial tubes which help keep air flowing in and out of the lungs.
  • Mucolytics: to thin out mucus which makes it easier for it to be removed from the lungs during coughing.
  • Antibiotics: for the treatment of bacterial causes of acute bronchitis

Disclaimer: The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.