If you're suffering from chest pain, a sore throat, a severe cough, fever, and muscle aches, there's a good chance you have pneumonia. It's very important to seek medical treatment, since this illness is treatable but can quickly turn deadly. But before your doctor begins treating you for pneumonia, he or she will conduct a series of tests. These tests are used to make sure that you truly have pneumonia and also to determine the best way to proceed with your treatment.
"Pneumonia" means "inflammation of the lungs." Sometimes, inflammation further up in the respiratory system, such as in the bronchi, can cause similar symptoms to pneumonia. So, it's important for your doctor to visualize the lungs and actually see if they are inflamed before treatment is begun. This is often done via ultrasound.
Ultrasound is a painless procedure. Your doctor will use a special device to send sound waves through your skin and into your chest. The pattern with which these sound waves bounce off your internal organs is used to generate an image. You won't feel a thing, other than your doctor rubbing your chest with a smooth, metal device during the ultrasound. However, by the end of the ultrasound, you and your doctor will know if you really have pneumonia or not.
Note that some doctors will take full x-rays of your chest rather than have an ultrasound performed. This serves the same purpose -- it generates an image of your chest's interior. For more information about ultrasound services, contact a company like Central Iowa OB/Gyn Specialists, PLC.
Blood and Mucous Tests
There are bacterial, viral, and fungal forms of pneumonia. Before your doctor can treat you, he or she needs to know what form you have. A blood test will often be conducted to make this determination. Because some pathogens show up in blood tests better than others, your doctor may also take a sample of your mucous to analyze.
Pulse oximetry is a test that will tell your doctor whether the levels of oxygen in your blood are adequate. The lower your blood oxygen level, the more impaired your lung function. The pulse oximetry test could not be simpler -- your doctor puts a clip-like device on your finger, and it measures the oxygen level in your blood. The test is painless. If your oxygen levels are too low, you may be put on supplemental oxygen until your pneumonia symptoms begin to clear.
The tests conducted to diagnose and characterize pneumonia are pretty simple. So, if you're suffering from pneumonia symptoms, don't let fear of the doctor keep you from seeking treatment.
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