Diagnosis of Pneumonia

How is Pneumonia Diagnosed?

If you have symptoms of Pneumonia, you should visit your doctor at your earliest convenience. The doctor will diagnose pneumonia on the basis of signs & symptoms, Lab Tests results, physical exam, chest X rays, etc.

The symptoms of Pneumonia are similar to that of influenza or cold. Thus, patient may not realize the presence of pneumonia until the symptoms get worsened.

Let’s briefly discuss the various ways used for diagnosis of Pneumonia.

Studying Signs and Symptoms

The doctor will ask various questions to the patient to study signs and symptoms of Pneumonia. The questions may range from habits, hobbies of the patient to its past medical history to any medication he/she is taking.

Physical Exam

The doctor will use the stethoscope for performing the physical exam of the lungs.

The individuals infected with pneumonia will produce crackling, wheezing and rumbling sounds in the lungs during inhalation.

The absence of regular sounds in cheat areas may point to the infection caused by pneumonia.

Laboratory Tests

After the physical examination, the doctor may ask the patient to conduct certain laboratory tests. These are done for confirming the presence of pneumonial infection.

Lab Tests recommended by doctor are as follows:

Chest X-Ray: A chest X-ray is widely used diagnostic test for diagnosing pneumonia. It is performed to visualise the various structures situated inside the chest including lungs, heart and blood vessels.

Only drawback of the chest X-ray is that it does not identifies the infectious agent that had caused pneumonia.

Blood Tests: A Blood test requires you to provide a sample of blood which is sent for analysis. The blood report includes the complete blood count (CBC) including number of white blood cells.

Doctor will look for the number of WBC in your blood to confirm the presence of bacterial infection.

In some cases, doctor may ask for a blood culture to identify the germs in the bloodstream.

Diagnostic Tests for Severe Cases

Pneumonia may affect anyone, however it is more severe in cases of infants, children, hospitalised individuals, older adults (65 or above), and individuals with associated complications.

The following diagnostic tests are performed for severe cases of Pneumonia.

Sputum test: This test involves collection of sample of sputum from the patient and its subsequent analysis. It helps the doctor in detecting the type of germ that caused the infection.

Chest computed tomography (CT) scan: In some cases, a chest CT scan is performed to see the accurate and detailed images of internal structure of lungs. It is more advanced and elaborative than chest X-ray test.

Pleural fluid culture (thoracentesis): In thoracentesis procedure, a sample of fluid is collected from the pleural space between the lungs and chest cavity. This sample of pleural fluid is analysed for the presence of specific type of germ responsible for infection.

Bronchoscopy: It is performed for viewing the internal details of lungs’ airways. It is recommended in cases where the individual is hospitalised and does not respond to treatment with antibiotics.