If the cause is bacterial, the goal of treatment is to cure the infection with antibiotics. However, if the pneumonia is caused by a virus, antibiotics will NOT be effective. In some cases it is difficult to distinguish between viral and bacterial pneumonia, so antibiotics may be prescribed.
- Many people can be treated at home with antibiotics by mouth.If you have an underlying chronic disease, severe symptoms, or low oxygen levels, you will likely require hospitalization for intravenous antibiotics and oxygen therapy. Infants and the elderly are also more commonly admitted for treatment of pneumonia.
- Steps that you can take at home include:
- Drink plenty of fluids to help loosen secretions and bring up phlegm.
- Get lots of rest. For example, have someone else cook and do light work around the house.
- Control your fever with aspirin or acetaminophen. Aspirin must NOT be given to children.
- When in the hospital, respiratory treatments to remove secretions may be necessary. Occasionally, steroid medications may be used to reduce wheezing if there is an underlying lung disease.