Infection of the Bronchial Tubes Chronic Evaluation
- Low blood oxygen levels
- Rapid respiratory rate
- Signs of severe difficulty breathing
The diagnosis of chronic bronchitis is usually confirmed through testing.
Tests that may be used to evaluate chronic bronchitis include:
- Chest x-ray
- Arterial blood gas
- Pulse oximetry
- Pulmonary function tests:
- Measuring the response to bronchodilator medications
- Peak flow measurement
Less commonly performed tests that may be used to evaluate chronic bronchitis include:
Infection of the Bronchial Tubes Chronic Pulmonary Function Test
An evaluation of chronic bronchitis will often include pulmonary function testing.
Pulmonary Function Testing
Pulmonary function tests include a variety of special lung tests. They are also called PFTs or spirometry. PFTs measure the movement of air in and out of the lungs. Using these test results, a doctor can assess a person's overall lung function.
PFTs are also used to document the progression or extent of certain lung diseases. They can show a therapeutic response to a medication or treatment. PFTs can evaluate a patient's lungs prior to surgery and monitor workers exposed to substances that are toxic to the lungs.
In this test, the patient breathes into a mouthpiece. The PFT machine measures the amount of air inhaled or exhaled in a fixed period of time. The maximum speed of breathing out is measured. This is called Peak Expiratory Flow or, PEF. Oxygen saturations are usually measured along with PFTs. A simple version of this test is available as a personal peak flow meter.
Infection of the Bronchial Tubes Chronic Similar Conditions
Conditions that may cause symptoms similar to chronic bronchitis include:
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- Panpanich R, Lerttrakarnnon P, Laopaiboon M. Azithromycin for acute lower respiratory tract infections. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004 Oct 18;(4):CD001954. 
- Schmier JK, Halpern MT, Higashi MK, Bakst A. The quality of life impact of acute exacerbations of chronic bronchitis (AECB): a literature review. Qual Life Res. 2005 Mar;14(2):329-47.