Treatment for pneumonia depends on how serious your symptoms are. But you will usually be given antibiotics to treat it.
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:
- 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.
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
Ask your GP or pharmacist about both vaccines.