How Is Pneumonia Diagnosed

A diagnostic test involves a physical examination and several tests that will confirm the presence of pneumonia infection. Pneumonia is an infection that is linked to the lungs, so screening tests will check if there is an infection affecting your lungs and they will also reveal the type of pathogen that has contributed to the infection. Based on the diagnostic reports your healthcare provider shall prescribe appropriate treatment.   

Pneumonia diagnosis involves the following tests:    

  • Physical examination

Your healthcare provider will ask you some questions regarding your general health, family history, symptoms, and lifestyle. They will use their stethoscope to listen to the sound of your lungs while you breathe. The infection causes the accumulation of thick fluid or pus in your lungs, and when you inhale, your lungs make a crackling sound due to the pus buildup.  

  • Blood culture tests

Your healthcare provider will ask you to get a blood test done, which will confirm the presence of pneumonia and it will also help with the identification of the type of germ that led to the development of the infection. The blood sample will be used to grow the bacteria in the laboratory. The lab technician will perform the test and leave the sample for a few days to see if pathogenic growth takes place. If it does, they will further check and determine which type of pathogen – bacteria, fungi, or virus is present in the blood.

  • Sputum tests

Pneumonia can cause the buildup of thick mucus, also known as phlegm, in the lungs. Getting this accumulated mucus out of the lungs will clean the lungs to a greater extent. Its thickness traps the pathogens, and it spits out from the lungs, the pathogens get thrown out as well. As the phlegm contains pathogens, collecting a sample of it would help identify the type of pathogen that caused pneumonia.

  • Throat and nasal swab tests

Nasal and throat swabs will help confirm whether the person has caught pneumonia. This infection spreads when the person who has it sneezes or coughs openly. Even standing closer to the infected person can lead to the transmission of the infection when they exhale. Openly coughing, sneezing, and breathing releases the droplets in the air. As pathogens are present in your nose. Throat, and in your entire respiratory tract, swabs collected from any of these parts will be helpful to determine the results.

  • Urine tests

A urine sample will be collected to determine the presence of a particular type of bacteria, called streptococcus pneumonia, which is also known as pneumococcal bacteria. This is the common type of bacteria that is a major cause of pneumonia in adults. This test looks for antigens, which are the toxins or foreign elements that trigger the immune system response.  

  • Pleural fluid tests

This type of test involves the collection of the fluid sample from the pleura, which corresponds to the area between the chest wall and the outer lining of your lungs. The fluid sample can be collected by inserting a needle through the chest wall into the pleural space and removing the fluid. The collected sample will be then checked and analyzed under the microscope to identify the type of infection.  

  • X-ray scanning

An X-ray image of your chest will capture the extent of damage the infection has caused to your lungs. These scanned images will be helpful to check whether your body is responding to the treatments. You may be suggested to get an X-ray scanned several times until it fully heals, and your condition gets restored.

  • Computed tomography (CT) scan

A CT scan will reveal a finer and more detailed image of your lungs to detect pneumonia. This test is suggested when the X-ray images failed to generate the proper image of your chest. A CT scan checks for abnormalities. It also generates an image of your respiratory tracts, especially airways, for conducting an in-depth analysis.

  • Bronchoscopy

This procedure is done to look directly into the airways of your lungs, with the help of a small camera, which is attached to a flexible scope. The scope is then inserted through your mouth and down to your lungs. This test will help obtain sputum samples and check for blockages in the airways.

Treatment Methods

The treatment methods will be tailored according to the individual’s situation as well as severity. The physical examination is the basic process, which is an initial step. Based on the initial examination, your healthcare provider will ask you to get some tests and if it fails to produce a clear result or rule out the cause of pneumonia, then they may suggest another test to identify the root cause.  

Once the cause of infection is identified and the type of pathogen is determined, the treatment will be followed. You will be prescribed a combination of some medications that will fight off infectious pathogens, prevent their growth and multiplication, and restore the health of your lungs.

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