Pneumonia is a type of lung infection that causes cough, fever, and difficulty breathing. Pneumonia may affect one or both lungs, and can cause serious illness in young children, people over age 65, and people with other health problems.
Treatment for pneumonia depends on the type of pneumonia, how sick the patient is, the patient’s age, and if other underlying medical conditions are present.
Mild cases of pneumonia will often go away on their own by managing symptoms and getting adequate rest. Home treatment for pneumonia includes:
- Getting plenty of rest
- Drinking adequate fluids
- Warm beverages may help open airways
- Steamy baths or showers or use of a humidifier can help open airways
- Fever reducers
- Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke or any other lung irritants
- Check with your doctor before taking cough medicines because coughing helps the body work to rid itself of infection
If medicines are needed, medications used to treat pneumonia include:
- Antibiotics, if the cause is bacterial
- Antivirals, if the cause is viral
In severe cases of pneumonia, hospitalization may be needed, and treatment may include:
- Intravenous (IV) fluids
- Breathing treatments
- Intravenous antibiotics
- Oxygen therapy
What Are Symptoms of Pneumonia?
Symptoms of pneumonia include:
- May produce phlegm or mucus that may be yellow, greenish, or bloody
- Sharp pain on inhalation or when coughing
- Difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Fast heartbeat
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of energy
- Nausea and vomiting (more common in young children)
- Confusion (more common in older people)
How Is Pneumonia Diagnosed?
Pneumonia is diagnosed with a patient history and physical examination, in which a doctor will check the lungs with a stethoscope to listen for crackling, bubbling, and rumbling sounds on inhalation.
Tests to confirm pneumonia include:
- Blood tests
- Sputum test on a sample of mucus (sputum) taken after a deep cough
- Pulse oximetry to measure blood oxygen levels
- Arterial blood gas test
- Chest X-ray
- Urinary antigen testing for S. pneumoniae
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan of the chest
- Pleural fluid culture: a small amount of fluid is removed from tissues surrounding the lung
- Bronchoscopy: a tube with a light on the end is used to look into the airways