In order to make a diagnosis of chronic bronchitis, your doctor will begin by performing a thorough physical examination. Your physician will record your medical history, and then ask questions about your symptoms. Some of these questions may be:
- Are you coughing up mucus?
- Are you having trouble breathing?
- Does your chest feel tight?
- How long have you had these symptoms?
- Do you smoke cigarettes?
- How many cigarettes do you smoke each day?
- How many years have you been smoking?
- Have you been breathing in other pollutants that can irritate your lungs?
If your doctor thinks you may have chronic bronchitis, you may be tested to find out if your lungs are damaged. Some of the tests you receive may be:
- Pulmonary Function Testing (PFT) — In this test, you’ll breathe into a machine that measures the amount of air in your lungs. This lets your doctor assess the function of your lungs to see how well they’re working
- Blood tests
The following tests may also be conducted to make a diagnosis:
- Chest X-ray — Chest X-rays can help confirm a diagnosis of chronic bronchitis and rule out other lung problems
- Sputum Examination — Analysis of cells in your sputum (mucus) can help pinpoint the cause of some lung problems
If appropriate, your doctor may perform a bronchoscopy.
During a bronchoscopy, your doctor has a clear view of your airways. They can also take tissue or mucus samples from inside the lung.