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Pneumonia diagnosis

Doctors diagnose pneumonia mainly by talking to the person who is unwell and examining them.

In some cases, tests might be run on samples of blood, a swab from inside the nose or throat, urine or sputum (phlegm) to try to identify the cause of the pneumonia. A chest x-ray may also be taken. As these tests take time and the cause of pneumonia is often not known, treatment will usually be started immediately and may need to change once the doctor has the results or if your symptoms are worsening.

If you or someone in your care may be recovering well from a cold or flu but then it becomes worse, it may be pneumonia. It is important to see a doctor as soon as possible as pneumonia is life threatening to babies, children and the elderly. If the affected person has trouble breathing, they should go to the nearest Emergency Department.

Last reviewed: November 2016

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