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Diagnosing pneumonia leads to proper treatment

As many Oregon residents may know, pneumonia may initially present as an upper respiratory infection. However, unlike such an infection, the symptoms may worsen. Health care professionals use a series of diagnostic tests to determine whether pneumonia is present.

Pneumonia affects breathing by inflaming the air sacs in the lungs. Initially, a physician will obtain a medical history that includes questions about symptoms and exposure to other individuals who were ill. In addition, the health care professional may ask about travel outside the country or if the patient smokes.

A physical examination reveals whether the person’s lungs are affected by the presence of crackles, wheezing or other aberrant sounds. In order to substantiate physical abnormalities, a chest X-ray might be ordered. This test looks for signs of infection in the lungs. Although an X-ray is considered diagnostic, a CT scan might be ordered to provide additional details. Although X-rays and CT scans confirm a lung infection, a physician may need to document what germ caused the infection. This is elicited by doing a sputum culture or taking samples of fluid found in the lungs. Both will help identify the causative agent. Since pneumonia might affect how much the lungs are able to aerate the blood, a pulse oximetry test might be done. This test measures the oxygenation of the blood using a sensor on the finger.

Doing the correct diagnostic tests is essential when a patient is in the hands of a doctor. A delayed diagnosis may end in harm to the patient. When this happens, the patient may suffer financial damage related to additional medical treatment or the inability to work. Those who are in this position may want to obtain the advice and counsel of a medical malpractice attorney.