For mild cases of pneumonia, they can be managed at home using antibiotics and getting enough rest and fluids. As for severe cases, it would require hospitalization so that the condition is carefully monitored.
Home treatment for pneumonia
The individual will continue to cough for 2-3 weeks after completing the recommended course of antibiotics and feel tired for a longer period as the body recovers. A doctor should be consulted if the symptoms do not subside within 2 days of starting treatment. The symptoms might not improve due to the following:
- The bacteria responsible for the infection might be resistant to antibiotics. The doctor will prescribe a different antibiotic or start treatment using a second antibiotic while using the first one.
- A virus might be the cause of the infection. Antibiotics will have no effect on the viruses, thus the immune system has to fight the viral infection by producing antibodies.
Hospitalization might be needed if the symptoms are severe. At the hospital, treatment usually includes antibiotics and intravenous fluids via a drip or even oxygen to assist with breathing. In severe cases, the breathing is assisted with a ventilator in an intensive care unit.
Self-care measures for pneumonia
You can provide pain medications such as ibuprofen or paracetamol to help minimize the pain and fever. Nevertheless, ibuprofen should not be used if the individual is highly sensitive to aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or has asthma, history of stomach ulcers, kidney disease or indigestion.
The cough medications are not recommended. Always bear in mind that coughing helps clear up the mucus from the lungs, thus trying to stop the cough will only make the infection last longer. In addition, there is limited evidence that cough medications are effective. A warm drink of lemon and honey can help reduce the discomfort due to coughing. Encourage the individual to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration and get enough rest to help promote faster recovery. For those who smoke, it is vital to stop now since smoking damages the lungs.
Always bear in mind that pneumonia is not passed from one individual to another, thus it is safe to be around others. Nevertheless, those who have weakened immune systems must avoid one who has the condition until they start to get better.
Once the symptoms improve, it will take some time to achieve full recovery and the coughing can last for some time.
After the treatment
The doctor will set a follow-up checkup around 6 weeks after starting antibiotics. In some cases, follow-up tests might be required such as a chest x-ray if the symptoms did not improve, symptoms recurred, the individual smokes and those over 50 years old.