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Aspiration Pneumonia Symptoms & Diagnosis

Symptoms

If you experience any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to aspiration pneumonia. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. If you experience any one of them, see your physician.

  • Swallowing problems
  • Frequent coughing, especially after eating and/or drinking
  • Shortness of breath or loud breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Fever
  • Chest pain, especially when coughing

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. During the exam, your doctor will listen to your heart and lungs with a stethoscope. Tests may include the following:

  • Chest x-ray —A chest x-ray will determine if there are infiltrates within either lung, which may be a sign of lung infection.
  • Sputum culture—A sample of sputum (a mucous-like secretion from the lungs) may be tested to determine which antibiotic should be used for treatment.
  • Bronchoscopy —A tube with a camera at the end may be inserted through the nose or mouth into the airway to obtain a sample of sputum and to view the airways of the lungs.
  • Barium swallow —If you have swallowing problems, you may be asked to swallow barium contrast, which will show up on an x-ray of the lungs if aspiration has occurred.

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. Copyright © 2019 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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