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Treatment - Pneumonia

Treatment for pneumonia depends on how serious your symptoms are. But you will usually be given antibiotics to treat it.

Diagnosing pneumonia

Pneumonia can be difficult to diagnose. This is because it shares symptoms with conditions, such as the common cold and asthma.

Your GP may be able to diagnose pneumonia by:

  • asking about your symptoms
  • listening to your chest and back
  • taking your temperature

If your pneumonia is serious, you may need further tests such as a chest x-ray or blood tests. If it is mild, you probably won't need this.

Treatment at home

Mild pneumonia can usually be treated at home.


  • drink plenty of fluids

  • rest until you feel better

  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen to help with pain or a high temperature

  • drink warm honey and lemon to help with coughing


  • do not smoke

  • do not take cough medicine

It's usually safe for someone with pneumonia to be around others, including family. Avoid close contact with people who have a weak immune system.

Non-urgent advice: Speak to your GP if:

  • your symptoms do not improve within 3 days of starting antibiotics

Your symptoms may not improve if:

  • the bacteria causing the infection is resistant to antibiotics
  • a virus is causing the infection

Treatment in hospital

If your pneumonia is serious, you may need to be treated at the hospital.

Urgent advice: Contact your GP urgently if:

  • you're feeling short of breath
  • you have chest pain that gets worse when you breathe in or out
  • you've had a cough for 3 weeks or more
  • you're coughing up blood

Emergency action required: Call 999, 112 or go to your nearest emergency department (ED) if:

  • you're having difficulty breathing
  • your lips or tongue are blue
  • you feel confused

At the hospital, you will usually be given:

  • antibiotics
  • fluids through a drip
  • oxygen to help you breathe


Pneumonia can be caused by something getting into your lungs (aspiration pneumonia). If this happens, the object may need to be removed.

Your doctor may use a bronchoscope to locate and remove the object.

After pneumonia

You may still have a cough for 2 to 3 weeks after you finish your course of antibiotics. You may feel tired for even longer as your body recovers.

You will have a follow-up GP appointment about 6 weeks after you start your antibiotics.

Your GP may arrange follow-up tests such as a chest x-ray if:

  • your symptoms have not improved
  • your symptoms have come back
  • you smoke
  • you're over 50

Your GP may advise you to get the flu vaccine or pneumococcal vaccine after recovering from pneumonia.

Ask your GP or pharmacist about both vaccines.

Page last reviewed: 21 June 2023
Next review due: 21 June 2026

This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.