Captivate Research


How is Pneumonia Diagnosed?

Your doctor or care practitioner will take your history, do a physical exam and may order the following tests.

  • Chest X-ray – to confirm pneumonia and the type of pneumonia, and show how extensive it is in your lungs.
  • Finger Clip (Pulse Oximetry) – to measure the oxygen level in the blood and whether you need oxygen.
  • Sputum (spit) test – to help determine the bug (virus, bacteria, fungi) causing pneumonia.
  • A urine test may define specific causes of pneumonia.

Hospitalized over age 65?

If you are hospitalized, over age 65, have serious symptoms or underlying health conditions you may have the following tests.

  • Blood tests that are done in critically ill patients to identify the bug (bacteria, fungi, virus) causing pneumonia.
  • CT Lung Scan – to obtain more detailed images of your lungs that provide clues to the extent and cause of pneumonia.
  • Obtain pleural fluid – fluid around the lung – to test if that fluid is infected.

Case Study

"A young female develops fever, cough, and shortness of breath. She sees her doctor and is started on treatment with appropriate antibiotics. However, she deteriorates, is admitted to the hospital, and treated with intravenous antibiotics, corticosteroids, and oxygen for 10 days. She eventually recovers, but it turns out that in her history she has had her spleen removed after an automobile accident. She had been told to take the pneumococcal vaccine, but was concerned about vaccine side effects and did not get the vaccine. Patients who have had their spleen removed are at increased risk of severe pneumococcal disease, including pneumonia and severe sepsis that can lead to death. Therefore, the pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for people who have had their spleen removed, as well as for older individuals and people with underlying lung, heart and kidney conditions as well as diabetes."