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How is pneumonia treated?

The treatment depends on the type of germ causing the pneumonia. For example, if the pneumonia is caused by bacteria, antibiotics will help kill these germs. Different medicines will be needed if a different type of germ is causing the infection. If people are having trouble breathing and getting oxygen to their lungs, they can get extra oxygen through a mask, or through little tubes that sit just under their nose. 

Treatment options for pneumonia depend on what sort you have. For most people, pneumonia can be treated at home, but if you have a severe case or if you experience an aggravated case due to other medical concerns, you may need to be hospitalized. For bacterial pneumonia, antibiotics are prescribed. It's important to take all the medicine to keep the pneumonia from coming back. Most people start to get better within a few days once they begin antibiotic treatment. Antibiotics don't help viral pneumonia. Doctors often recommend rest while your immune system fights off the virus. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medicine. Viral pneumonia usually gets better in one to three weeks. Your doctor may recommend deep-breathing exercises to clear the lungs; while rest is important for recovery, so is moving often to help the lungs recover. Supplemental oxygen may also be supplied.

Dr. Brian D. Gelbman, MD
Pulmonary Disease Specialist

The main course of therapy for pneumonia is antibiotics, which treat the bacterial infection that typically causes the condition. Watch pulmonologist Brian Gelbman, MD, discuss the treatment options for both common and severe cases of pneumonia.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.