U.S. doctors online nowAsk doctors free
A 34-year-old member asked:

how can doctors tell if you have viral or bacterial bronchitis?

2 doctor answers2 doctors weighed in
Dr. Sue Ferranti
Internal Medicine 29 years experience
Evaluation...: The symptoms of bacterial bronchitis are usually a bit more severe as in higher fever, more severe cough, more body aches, etc but there is overlap. When in doubt, a sputum culture can be useful. Also, viral bronchitis will usually begin resolving in a few days without treatment so if you are feeling better in a few days w/o antibiotics, chances are it is viral and antibiotics will be ineffective.
Dr. Paul Slawek
Radiology 54 years experience
Cultures&Microscope: Sputun is examined under a microscope and bacteria can be seen. Cultures are allowed to grow few days and pathogens grow and can be identified. Blood tests can show antibodies to various viruses. Clinical findings can help differentiate in some cases.

90,000 U.S. doctors in 147 specialties are here to answer your questions or offer you advice, prescriptions, and more. Get help now:

Ask doctors free
Personalized answers
Free
Talk to a doctor
24/7 visits
$15 per month

Similar questions

A 37-year-old member asked:

How do doctors know if you have viral or bacterial bronchitis?

1 doctor answer2 doctors weighed in
Dr. Sue Ferranti
Internal Medicine 29 years experience
Severity of sxs : Both viral and bacterial bronchitis have similar symptoms but bacterial bronchitis usually has a higher fever, more congestion, etc but there is considerable overlap. Sometimes a sputum culture can be helpful in indentifying which bacteria are present. If there is only a low grade fever, it is usually viral.
FL
A 46-year-old female asked:

Is bronchitis bacterial or viral?

2 doctor answers4 doctors weighed in
Dr. Scott Diede
A Verified Doctor answered
A US doctor answered Learn more
Usually viral: Acute bronchitis is usually caused by viruses, typically the same viruses that cause colds and influenza. The most common cause of chronic bronchitis is smoking cigarettes. Air pollution and dust or toxic gases in the environment or workplace also can contribute to the condition. Antibiotics as a whole are overprescribed in bronchitis, though sometimes it is warranted.
A 45-year-old member asked:

Can strep bacteria cause bronchitis?

1 doctor answer5 doctors weighed in
Dr. Martin Raff
Infectious Disease 56 years experience
Bronchitis: Acute bronchitis is caused by viruses in >95% of cases. The remainder are predominantly bordetella pertussis (cause of whooping cough). It would be rare for strep pyogenes to be involved, but there may be some cases of exacerbations of chronic bronchitis in which they may be involved.

Related questions

A 39-year-old member asked:
2 doctor answers4 doctors weighed in
A 34-year-old female asked:
2 doctor answers2 doctors weighed in
A 29-year-old female asked:
1 doctor answer2 doctors weighed in
A 30-year-old female asked:
2 doctor answers5 doctors weighed in

90,000 U.S. doctors in 147 specialties are here to answer your questions or offer you advice, prescriptions, and more. Get help now:

Ask doctors free
Personalized answers
Free
Talk to a doctor
24/7 visits
$15 per month
Last updated Feb 5, 2021
Connect with a U.S. board-certified doctor by text or video anytime, anywhere.
24/7 visits
$15 per month

Disclaimer:

Content on HealthTap (including answers) should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and interactions on HealthTap do not create a doctor-patient relationship. Never disregard or delay professional medical advice in person because of anything on HealthTap. Call your doctor or 911 if you think you may have a medical emergency.