Being vigilant about the different early symptoms of bronchitis in adults can help in quick diagnosis, treatment and healing of this disease. But how exactly will you know if you have bronchitis or if it’s some other form of respiratory ailment?
Below are some of the warning signs that you or someone you know may have either acute or chronic bronchitis. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, have yourself checked by a physician immediately:1,2
|Cough that produces yellow or green mucus
||Chronic cough that produces mucus that may or may not have streaks of blood
|Burning sensation in the chest
||Shortness of breath
|General ill feeling, or malaise
||Ankle, feet and leg swelling
|Chills (although these are uncommon)
If you suspect that you have chronic bronchitis, expect some of the symptoms to worsen at two or more times per year, especially during the winter months.3
To prevent these symptoms from further affecting you, consult a physician immediately. Typically, they will ask questions about how you’re feeling and what makes you feel worse, especially when it comes to some of your symptoms, like your cough. Your physician will also ask you questions on the following topics:4
• Your medical history
• Recent cases of either a cold or flu
• Smoking habits
• Recent exposure to air pollution or substances such as dust, fumes and vapors
How Your Physician Could Diagnose Bronchitis
Your physician will use a stethoscope to listen for abnormal sounds in your lungs or check for wheezing (a whistling or squeaky sound when you breathe).5,6 Further tests such as the following may be recommended as well:7,8
• Pulse oximetry:9 This determines the amount of oxygen present in your blood by using a sensor attached at the end of your finger or toe.10
• Chest X-ray: Having a chest X-ray can help determine if you have pneumonia or another condition that’s causing the cough. This test is vital if you are or were a smoker.
• Sputum tests: As the name implies, this test checks the sputum, or the mucus that you cough up from your lung. It will help check if you have whooping cough or another illness.
• Pulmonary function test: Patients who take a pulmonary function test blow into a device called a spirometer. This measures the quantity of air that your lungs can hold and how quickly you can expel the air out of it. It will also look for any indications of asthma or emphysema, a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).11
• High resolution computed tomography (HRCT): High-resolution images of your lungs are produced with this special type of CT scan.12