The aim of treatment of pneumonia is to cure the infection and prevent complications. Treatment approach depends on several factors such as your age and general health, the possible causative organism or organisms, and the setting — community or health care — where the infection developed, and severity of infection. Most people with pneumonia can be treated at home.
Treatment approach for pneumonia may include:
1. Medications: Antibiotics, antiviral medicines, fever and cough medicines may be used to treat pneumonia.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial pneumonias. But the decision to treat pneumonia with an antibiotic isn't easy as it is very difficult to distinguish bacterial pneumonia from viral pneumonia and the increase in resistance of bacteria to various antibiotics often complicates treatment. Antibiotics are prescribed based on the trends in infection, antibiotic use in your area and the severity of infection. If there is no improvement within a few days of start of treatment your doctor may switch to another antibiotic.
- Anti-viral: These are recommended medication for viral pneumonia. Antibiotics are not effective for treatment of viral pneumonia.
- Antipyretics or fever reducers: You will be given medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen to control or reduce fever. (Aspirin should not be given to children.)
- Cough medicine: Take cough medicines after consulting your doctor. These medicines may help to loosen phlegm and get rid of extra sputum.
2. Other Treatment
- Humidifier: You may be advised to use a cool-mist humidifier or vaporiser to increase air moisture and ease breathing. Hot steam should not be used instead of cool-mist humidifier or vaporiser.
- Oxygen therapy: If the level of oxygen in your bloodstream becomes low, you will be given oxygen therapy (by mask or nasal cannula).
- Rest and diet: Bed rest till your body temperature normalises (98.6 degrees F or 37 degrees C) and other symptoms such as chest pains and breathing problems subside, is recommended. Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids (six to eight glasses of liquids daily) to help keep the mucous thin and easy to cough up.
3. Hospital Admission
Most people with community-acquired pneumonia do not require hospital care. You may be admitted if you have any two of these indicators of severe pneumonia.
- Age more than 65 years or a very young child.
- You become disoriented or confused.
- Your breathing becomes laboured or rapid.
- Your blood pressure decreases.
- Your need oxygen or respiratory therapy.