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Bronchitis – Preparing for your Appointment

September 21, 2013

If you have lingering symptoms of bronchitis, you need to make an appointment with your doctor so you may be correctly diagnosed and get the required treatment. If after a couple of weeks of treatment your symptoms do not get better, you may need to return to your physician as they may point to a worse underlying condition. Also, if during two weeks of treatment your symptoms seem to be worsening, you need to also see your doctor again.  The serious symptoms that should prompt you to go back for another appointment can include:

  • Swollen ankles and/or feet
  • Continuous high fever
  • Breathing problems while lying down or at rest
  • Blue-colored lips and skin
  • Blood in mucus or sputum

These signs can be that of a different and worse condition or bronchitis complications.

Listing Down your Bronchitis Symptoms

In preparing for your appointment with your doctor, one of the best things you can do is to prepare a list of symptoms you have experienced. This list can aid you in answering questions the physician may question you during your first exam. You need to assess if you indeed are experiencing any of the following symptoms related to bronchitis:

  • Wheezing or other uncommon sounds when you breathe
  • Recent cold or flu
  • Greenish or yellowish thick mucus
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue that disrupts your regular activities
  • Breathing difficulty when climbing up the stairs or walking
  • Coughing that begins in the morning and persists or becomes severe for the rest of the day
  • Pain in the chest when taking deep breaths or coughing

Added to these symptoms, should be other pertinent information about your health history and your family’s as well. Other information you can include in this list should mention if you or if someone in your immediate family suffers or has suffered from:

  • Other respiratory problems
  • High cholesterol
  • Lung, kidney or heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Asthma or other breathing issues
  • Allergies that need treatment

Your doctor will have questions to ask you as well and some of them may be about your lifestyle choices that may have helped develop your bronchitis. Some of the lifestyle choices that may have caused you bronchitis can include:

  • Tobacco smoking
  • Exposure to second hand tobacco smoke
  • Exposure to pollutants like chemicals
  • Exposure to too much dust

In the Doctor’s Office

When you come for your first appointment, the doctor will likely listen to your lungs using a stethoscope. The doctor may also require you to do certain breathing tests and undergo a chest X-ray.

You may want to ask your doctor certain questions regarding your complaint. These questions may include:

  • Can certain breathing exercises better my condition?
  • Do I need to undergo tests to ascertain that I have bronchitis?
  • Do I have chronic or acute bronchitis?
  • Do I need to completely stop smoking or can I just cut back on it?
  • Do you think I have emphysema or asthma?
  • Do I need to get a flu shot?
  • Is my bronchitis bacterial or viral?
  • What do I need to avoid in order not to get bronchitis again?
  • What short term treatments can I avail of to better my breathing?
  • Will you prescribe antibiotics for my problem?
  • Will these antibiotics alter my diet?

Diagnostic Questions

When he has determined you have bronchitis, your doctor will talk about treatment choices and make suggestions for the best treatment plan for you. The doctor should do his best to completely help you understand your diagnosis so you may have a good idea of the effects of the medicines as well as the lifestyle changes you need to adapt to.

Your doctor should give you answers to the following questions that are based on your own particular case:

  • Do I need an inhaler?
  • Are there exercises I should not perform?
  • What is my long-term prognosis?
  • Do I need to consult with a specialist?
  • Are there any oxygen therapies you can recommend?
  • What medicines do I need to take? What side effects do they have?
  • Will a vaporizer be helpful?
  • What over-the-counter drugs do I need to take?
  • Will some of the prescribed medicines interact with my other ongoing supplements or medicines?
  • Will quitting smoking better my symptoms?

Bringing along someone to accompany you to your appointment can be helpful since your companion can write down what the doctor says and he can also remember some of the information you may have missed telling your doctor.

Your doctor in turn will have corresponding questions to ask you that will help him diagnose your problem accurately. Some of the questions may be like these:

  • When did you first notice your symptoms?
  • Describe your symptoms. Have they been infrequently or frequently occurring?
  • Have your symptoms affected your work performance or your sleep?
  • Are you a smoker? Are you a heavy smoker? How long have you smoked?
  • Do you feel much weaker now than you have been last year?
  • Are you still able to walk as fast as you used to?    Do you have a hard time climbing a flight of stairs? Do you do regular exercise?
  • What factors make your symptoms worse?
  • What factors make your symptoms improve?
  • Do your symptoms get worse in cold air?
  • Do you get a flu shot every year?
  • Were you already vaccinated for pneumonia prevention? If yes, when?