The typical medical treatment for pneumonia will include prescribed medications, as well as some follow-up care. Once you have recovered from your infection, your doctor may request a chest X-ray to ensure that your pneumonia has been 100% successfully cleared.
Bacterial pneumonia will be treated with antibiotics that should be taken as recommended by your doctor. Antibiotics have a high cure rate for treating pneumonia. If you stop taking your course of antibiotics before treatment is complete, you do run the risk of falling ill again. Most people will begin to feel better and notice improvement of their symptoms within 1 to 3 days. The number of days you will be required to take antibiotics will depend on your general health, the severity of your infection, as well as the type of antibiotic your doctor is prescribing.
Viral pneumonia cannot be treated with antibiotics. Instead your doctor will recommend supportive care and sometimes antiviral medications to treat your infection. Symptoms will usually clear up within 1 to 3 weeks.
You may need to be hospitalised if:
- You are undergoing treatment but are not getting better or showing signs of improvement.
- You are older than 65.
- Have other health problems or chronic conditions causing complications.
- You are unable to tell if your symptoms are worsening or cannot care for yourself.
- Have a severe illness that reduces the amount of oxygen allowed to reach your bodily tissues.
- Experience chest pain caused by pleurisy (inflammation of the lining of the lungs and the inability to cough up mucus to help clear out the lungs).
- You are unable to eat or keep food down. In this instance, you will need intravenous treatment (take fluids through a vein).
In most mild cases where individuals are generally healthy and have strong immune systems, home care is possible. Prescribed medications, rest and fluids are usually all you need to recover from an infection. Sometimes lung problems and difficulties with breathing will require more treatment. In this case an inhaler or nebuliser will be recommended to help alleviate wheezing and shortness of breath symptoms.
In more severe cases you may need respiratory therapy to help remove mucus from the lungs. Therapy includes deep breathing exercises, postural drainage, incentive spirometry and chest physiotherapy. Oxygen therapy may also be necessary if your doctor feels that the cells of your body are not getting enough oxygen. Oxygen is given through a nasal tube or face mask, and using a tent that fits over a crib for a young child or baby.