Your doctor may suspect bronchiectasis if your signs and symptoms are suggestive of bronchiectasis such as frequent cough with daily production of large amounts of green or yellow sputum, shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing and bad breath (halitosis). To confirm the diagnosis your doctor may recommend tests to:
- Diagnose the cause of your symptoms (bronchiectasis or some other cause).
- Determine the extent to which your airways have been damaged.
How to Diagnose Bronchiectasis
Some of the diagnostic tests and procedures which your doctor may recommend to diagnose the cause of your symptoms are:
- Chest Computed Tomography Scan (CT scan): This test is most commonly done to diagnose bronchiectasis. It is a painless test and it creates detailed images of your airways, lungs and other structures in your chest which helps to determine the extent of airway damage and place where the damage is. It is more accurate than a chest X-ray to determine the airway damage.
- Chest X Ray: The chest x ray can show areas of abnormal lung tissue and airway walls, however the details are not as good as on a chest computed tomography scan.
- Blood tests: This test can help to determine if you have an underlying condition that predisposes to bronchiectasis. It also helps to evaluate if you have an infection or low levels of certain infection-fighting blood cells.
- Sputum culture: Culture and microscopic examination of your sputum sample can show whether you have infection with bacteria (such as the bacteria that cause tuberculosis) and fungi.
- Lung function tests: These tests help to determine the extent of your lung damage and their function. The tests measure the size of your lungs, how fast air goes in and out of the lungs and the how effectively your lungs deliver oxygen to your blood.
- Sweat test: The test is done for cystic fibrosis. If needed your doctor may recommend other tests for cystic fibrosis.
- Bronchoscopy: This test helps to look at the insides of the airways. Your doctor may recommend this test if you don’t respond to treatment or if the doctor suspects some other cause for your problem.
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