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Usually, your doctor will diagnose a lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI) by taking a thorough history of duration and onset of symptoms and performing a detailed physical exam and then ordering additional tests if needed.

There are several tests your doctor may perform if LRTI is suspected:

  • Pulse Oximetry: this test uses a small sensor that attaches to the finger or ear. It uses light to estimate how much oxygen is present in the blood.
  • Chest X-ray: creates an image of the lungs. Doctors can visually inspect this image for signs of pneumonia.
  • Blood Test: a sample of blood is taken and inspected in a laboratory for the presence of viruses, bacteria, or other organisms.
  • Laboratory Tests: a sample of sputum or mucus is taken and inspected in a laboratory for the presence of bacterial organisms.