Tests and diagnosisBy Mayo Clinic staff
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During the first few days of illness, it can be difficult to distinguish the signs and symptoms of bronchitis from those of a common cold. During the physical exam, your doctor will use a stethoscope to listen closely to your lungs as you breathe.
In some cases, your doctor may suggest:
- Chest X-ray. A chest X-ray can help determine if you have pneumonia or another condition that may explain your cough.
- Sputum culture. This test checks for the presence of bacteria in sputum produced when you cough. It's helpful in determining whether you have whooping cough (pertussis) or other illnesses that would be helped by antibiotics.
- Pulmonary function test. During a pulmonary function test, you blow into a device called a spirometer, which measures how much air your lungs can hold and how quickly you can get air out of your lungs. This test checks for signs of asthma or emphysema.
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