Mild cases of pneumonia can be treated at home with rest, antibiotics and drinking plenty of fluids. However, pneumonia can be severe and require hospital admission or intensive care unit (ICU) admission. It can lead to death particularly in those who are older or with other health problems.
Hospital admission is often recommended for babies, young children and older adults and for those with severe disease. It is important to take your treatment and see a doctor if you or child is not improving or you or your child develop severe symptoms.
Antibiotics can be used to treat pneumonia caused by bacteria but are not effective if it is caused by a virus. However, it is difficult to tell if pneumonia is caused by bacteria or a virus, so antibiotics are usually prescribed if pneumonia is diagnosed.
Treatment at home
If your treatment is at home, you need to take all the antibiotics prescribed and see your doctor for review as recommended. If your symptoms do not improve or get worse after you have started treatment, tell your doctor.
If possible, have someone stay with you or check in on you while you are unwell. Make sure you have access to a phone and are able to contact your doctor or emergency services if required.
To help your recovery:
- take antibiotics as prescribed
- drink plenty of fluids, mainly water
- avoid smoking or passive smoking
- take medications (such as paracetamol or ibuprofen) if required for relief of pain and fever.
Treatment in hospital
If you need treatment in hospital you'll be given antibiotics and fluids intravenously through a drip, and you may need oxygen to help your breathing.