What is the treatment for pneumonia?
Treatment at home may be fine, if you are normally well and the pneumonia is not severe.
An antibiotic such as amoxicillin is prescribed when pneumonia is suspected. Infection with a germ (bacterial infection) is a common cause and antibiotics kill bacteria. Amoxicillin is usually effective against the most common causes. If it doesn't seem to be effective and your doctor suspects a less common bacterium, they may change it. If you are allergic to penicillin (amoxicillin is a type of penicillin) your doctor will prescribe an alternative that works just as well. Antibiotic treatment is usually effective and you can expect to recover fully. Symptoms should improve after three days if the treatment is working. You may feel tired for a while after the infection has cleared. If the symptoms persist for longer than three weeks, you should ask your doctor to check you again.
- Have lots to drink, to avoid becoming lacking in fluid in the body (dehydrated).
- Take regular paracetamol to ease high temperature (fever) and headaches.
- Let a doctor know if symptoms do not improve over the following three days.
What about hospital treatment?
Hospital admission may be advised if you have severe pneumonia, or if symptoms do not quickly improve after you have started antibiotic treatment. Also, you are more likely to be treated in hospital if you are already in poor health, or if an infection with a more serious infecting germ is suspected. For example, if infection with Legionella pneumophila (the bacterium that causes Legionnaires' disease) is suspected.
Sometimes oxygen and other supportive treatments are needed if you have severe pneumonia. Those who become severely unwell may need treatment in an intensive care unit.
When you return home, even though the infection is treated, you may feel tired and unwell for some time.
Further reading and references
Pneumonia: Diagnosis and management of community- and hospital-acquired pneumonia in adults; NICE Clinical Guideline (December 2014)
Guidelines for the management of adult lower respiratory tract infections; European Respiratory Society and European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (September 2011)
Guidelines for the management of community acquired pneumonia in adults; British Thoracic Society (2009), Thorax Vol 64 Sup III
Respiratory tract infections (self-limiting): prescribing antibiotics; NICE Clinical Guideline (July 2008)
So, for about a month now, every time I take a breath, and especially walking outside in the cold (I live in Nova Scotia), I feel like someone has scrubbed the inside of my lungs with a brillo pad. I...Meesha
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