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Bronchitis - Diagnosis


Normally, a cough indicative of bronchitis produces a yellowish-gray or green mucus.  The presence of mucus in and of itself isnít an abnormal sign.  You airways produce up to several tablespoons of mucus ever day.  What is abnormal is the accumulation of this mucus. 

For the most part, your mucus will normally get cleared into your throat and you naturally swallow this along with your saliva.


And normally, your mucus isnít the yellowish-gray or green variety.  That usually only occurs when your bronchial tubes are inflamed or an infection exists.  If you have this type of mucus appearing for more than three months, then your health care practitioner will tell you that you have chronic bronchitis.


In addition to this symptom, you will probably notice several other signs.  These particular signals arenít exclusive to bronchitis, but they do indicate that an upper respiratory infection exists.


Youíre may be experiencing an upper respiratory infection if your chest is sore or if thereís a feeling of constriction or burning in your chest.  A sore throat, chest congestion, wheezing as well as breathlessness are all also good indicators of an upper respiratory infection.  A sensation of fullness in your sinuses is another indication, as are the slight fever and the presence of chills.  Another, very vague, symptom of respiratory problems is the presence of an overall malaise.


There are times when itís difficult to diagnose with certainty bronchitis merely by scanning the symptoms.  Chronic sinusitis, for example, can mimic this health problem.  Chronic sinusitis is an ongoing, long-term infection in the lining of at least one of the cavities in the bone around your nose.  This health problem also produces a discolored mucus discharge as well as a chronic cough.


In order to accurately diagnose your bronchitis, you health care practitioner will listen to your chest with a stethoscope.  He may also want you to get a chest X-ray.  In addition, he may request that you undergo a sputum culture.  This is a test that checks for the presence of bacteria in the mucus produced when you cough.


But, the tests may not end there.  Your health care practitioner may also ask you to go through some additional examinations to rule out other causes.  One such test is a pulmonary function test Ė or a PFT.  This determines whether there may be a signs of asthma or emphysema. 


During a pulmonary function test, youíll be asked to blow into a device called a spirometer.  This device measures the volume of air in your lungs Ė after youíve taken a deep breath and have blown it out.  The spirometer also allows your health care practitioner know just how quickly your system can get air into your lungs as well. 



Note: Some statements in this article may not be approved by the FDA. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice.


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