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)
Doctors may classify lung conditions as obstructive lung disease or restrictive lung disease. Obstructive lung diseases include conditions that make it hard to exhale all the air in the lungs. People with restrictive lung disease have difficulty fully expanding their lungs with air.
Obstructive and restrictive lung disease share the same main symptom: shortness of breath with exertion.
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 will have. This is especially true for older adults
Mucus 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.
HIV test. In people who have
impaired immune systems, pneumonia may be caused by
other organisms, including some forms of fungi, such as Pneumocystis jiroveci (formally 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.
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.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
March 17, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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