Diagnosis of Pneumonia
If you go to your doctor with symptoms of pneumonia, he or she will ask about your medical history, travel history, and other exposures that might suggest what type of pneumonia you have. A thorough physical examination usually includes tapping on your chest and back (to identify the presence of fluid or trapped air in your lungs) and listening carefully to your chest and back with a stethoscope.
Your doctor may choose to order a variety of tests, such as:
Blood Tests —Complete blood count including the number and types of white blood cells may help determine whether you have a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection.
Blood Culture —This involves sending a blood sample to a laboratory where it can be processed to see if any organisms are growing. If there are organisms, they can often be identified, and tests can be run to determine what types of antibiotics can best eliminate them.
Pulse Oximetry —This test measures the amount of oxygen in your blood to get a sense of how ill you are.
Arterial Blood Gas —This blood test measures the concentration of certain substances in your blood, including oxygen, carbon dioxide, and pH. This test may be performed to determine whether you will be able to continue breathing on your own, or whether you may need treatment with additional oxygen or mechanical ventilation.
Sputum Culture —If you’re able to cough up a sample of sputum, it can be sent to a laboratory to examine it for the presence of specific organisms. If there are organisms in the sputum, they can often be identified, and a specific antibiotic can be ordered for you.
Placement of Thoracentesis Needle
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Last reviewed July 2008 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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