Pneumonia - Exams and Tests
Your doctor will usually diagnose
- A physical exam.
- A chest X-ray, which is almost always done to check for changes
in the lungs that may mean pneumonia and to look for other causes of your
symptoms. But an X-ray does not always show whether you have pneumonia,
especially if it is done when you first get sick. In some
cases, the X-ray results may:
- Suggest the type of organism (bacterial, viral, or fungal)
complications of pneumonia, such as infection of the heart muscle or the sac surrounding the heart.
conditions that may occur with pneumonia, such as fluid in the chest cavity or
a collapsed lung.
- Reveal another condition, such as
heart failure, lung cancer, or
Lab tests for pneumonia
The need for more tests often depends on how severe
your symptoms are, your age, and your overall health. In general, the sicker
you are, the more tests you may need. This is especially true for older adults
and infants. One example of a test you may have is the arterial blood gas test.
If you are very ill, have severe shortness of breath, or
have a condition that increases your risk (such as
COPD), your doctor
may test your mucus. Tests include a Gram stain and a sputum culture.
Rapid urine test
This test can identify some bacteria that cause pneumonia. This can help guide treatment for pneumonia.
In people who have
impaired immune systems, pneumonia may be caused by
other organisms, including some forms of fungi, such as Pneumocystis jiroveci (formerly called Pneumocystis carinii). This fungus often causes
pneumonia in people who have AIDS. Some doctors may
HIV test if they think that Pneumocystis jiroveci is causing the pneumonia.
Other lung tests
If you have severe pneumonia, you may need
other tests, including tests to check for
complications and to find out how well your
immune system is working.