What is lung infections?

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Tests for lung infections

Other tests for lung infections, such as pneumonia and acute bronchitis, may include:

  • Blood tests or cultures. Blood tests may help tell if you have antibodies to a specific organism that can cause pneumonia or if you have a specific virus, such as influenza (flu) or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Doctors can use blood cultures to test for bacteria in your bloodstream.
  • Oximetry. An oximeter can estimate the amount of oxygen in your blood. A sensor in a cuff or clip is placed on the end of your finger. This sensor measures how much oxygen is in your blood. The oximeter machine shows the result.
  • Arterial blood gases. This test can measure the levels of oxygen in a sample of blood drawn from your artery. Doctors use this test to find out whether enough oxygen is getting into your bloodstream from your lungs.
  • Bronchoscopy. This is a visual exam of the tubes leading to your lungs. This test is usually done by a pulmonologist (lung specialist). The doctor inserts a small, lighted device through your nose or mouth into the tubes leading to your lungs. During the procedure, the doctor can obtain samples of tissue, fluid, or mucus.
  • Lung biopsy. This test is done on a very small piece of lung tissue. It looks for conditions such as lung cancer or fibrous tissue in the lungs (pulmonary fibrosis). Your doctor obtains lung tissue by inserting a needle into your chest between two ribs or by using bronchoscopy.
  • Thoracentesis. This test involves puncturing the chest wall to obtain fluid from the space around the lungs. Fluid obtained during the test can be checked for signs of infection or cancer.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan. A CT scan uses X-rays to produce detailed pictures of structures inside your body. It may be used in people who aren't responding to their treatment.

What can you do to prevent lung infections?

Stay healthy

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Get the flu vaccine every year.
  • Stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Get a pneumococcal vaccine shot. If you have had one before, ask your doctor whether you need another dose. Two different types of pneumococcal vaccines are recommended for people ages 65 and older.
  • Make sure you are current on your whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine to help prevent whooping cough.
  • Do not smoke. This is the most important step you can take to prevent more damage to your lungs. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These may increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke and air pollution. Try to stay inside with your windows closed when air pollution is bad.
  • If you are exposed to substances that irritate your lungs at home or at work, talk to your doctor about ways to protect yourself.

Exercise and eat well

  • If your doctor recommends it, get more exercise. For many people, walking is a good choice. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk every day. Try for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
  • Eat regular, well-balanced meals. Eating right keeps your energy levels up and helps your body fight infection.
  • Get plenty of rest and sleep.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.