Symptoms & Signs
The symptoms of either type of bronchitis may include:
- Chest discomfort
- Cough that produces mucus; if it’s yellow-green, you are more likely to have a bacterial infection
- Fever — usually low
- Shortness of breath worsened by exertion or mild activity
Even after acute bronchitis has cleared, you may have a dry, nagging cough that lingers for several weeks.
Additional symptoms of chronic bronchitis include:
- Ankle, feet, and leg swelling
- Blue-colored lips from low levels of oxygen
- Frequent respiratory infections (such as colds or the flu)
Diagnosis & Tests
The health care provider will listen to your lungs with a stethoscope. Abnormal sounds in the lungs called rales or other abnormal breathing sounds may be heard.
Tests may include:
- Chest x-ray
- Lung function tests provide information that is useful for diagnosis and your outlook.
- Pulse oximetry helps determine the amount of oxygen in your blood. This quick and painless test uses a device that is placed onto the end of your finger. Arterial blood gas is a more exact measurement of oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, but it requires a needle stick and is more painful.
- Sputum samples may be taken to check for signs of inflammation or bacterial infection.
Review Date : 9/24/2008
Reviewed By : Benjamin Medoff, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Pulmonary and Critical Care Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.