Treatment for pneumonia depends on the type of pneumonia you have, the germ causing your infection, and how severe your pneumonia is. Most people who have community-acquired pneumonia—the most common type of pneumonia—are treated at home. The goals of treatment are to cure the infection and prevent complications.
Bacterial pneumonia is treated with medicines called antibiotics. You should take antibiotics as your doctor prescribes. You may start to feel better before you finish the medicine, but you should continue taking it as prescribed. If you stop too soon, the pneumonia may come back.
Most people begin to improve after one to three days of antibiotic treatment. This means that they should feel better and have fewer symptoms such as cough and fever.
Antibiotics don't work when the cause of pneumonia is a virus. If you have viral pneumonia, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medicine to treat it. Viral pneumonia usually improves in one to three weeks.
Treating severe symptoms
You may need to be treated in a hospital if:
- Your symptoms are severe
- You're at risk for complications because of other health problems
If the level of oxygen in your bloodstream is low, you may receive oxygen therapy. If you have bacterial pneumonia, your doctor may give you antibiotics through an intravenous (IV) line inserted into a vein.
General treatment advice and follow-up care
If you have pneumonia, follow your treatment plan, take all medicines as prescribed, and get follow-up medical care. Read Living With to learn more about recovery time for pneumonia, and when and what type of follow-up care you may need.