How is pneumonia typically treated

What is the treatment for pneumonia?

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The aim of treatment of pneumonia is to cure the infection and prevent complications. Treatment approach depends on several factors such as your age and general health, the possible causative organism or organisms, and the setting — community or health care — where the infection developed, and severity of infection. Most people with pneumonia can be treated at home.

Treatment approach for pneumonia may include:

1.    Medications:  Antibiotics, antiviral medicines, fever and cough medicines may be used to treat pneumonia.

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial pneumonias. But the decision to treat pneumonia with an antibiotic isn’t easy  as it is very difficult to distinguish bacterial pneumonia from viral pneumonia and the increase in resistance of bacteria to various antibiotics often complicates treatment. Antibiotics are prescribed based on the trends in infection, antibiotic use in your area and the severity of infection. If there is no improvement within a few days of start of treatment your doctor may switch to another antibiotic.
  • Anti-viral: These are recommended medication for viral pneumonia. Antibiotics are not effective for treatment of viral pneumonia.
  • Antipyretics or fever reducers: You will be given medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen to control or reduce fever. (Aspirin should not be given to children.)
  • Cough medicine:  Take cough medicines after consulting your doctor. These medicines may help to loosen phlegm and get rid of extra sputum.

2.    Other Treatment

  • Humidifier: You may be advised to use a cool-mist humidifier or vaporiser to increase air moisture and ease breathing. Hot steam should not be used instead of cool-mist humidifier or vaporiser.
  • Oxygen therapy: If the level of oxygen in your bloodstream becomes low, you will be given oxygen therapy (by mask or nasal cannula).
  • Rest and diet: Bed rest till your body temperature normalises (98.6 degrees F or 37 degrees C) and other symptoms such as chest pains and breathing problems subside, is recommended. Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids (six to eight glasses of liquids daily) to help keep the mucous thin and easy to cough up.

3.    Hospital Admission

Most people with community-acquired pneumonia do not require hospital care. You may be admitted if you have any two of these indicators of severe pneumonia.

  • Age more than 65 years or a very young child.
  • You become disoriented or confused.
  • Your breathing becomes laboured or rapid.
  • Your blood pressure decreases.
  • Your need oxygen or respiratory therapy.The primary goal in treating pneumonia is to eradicate the infection and prevent any potential complications. The treatment strategy is tailored based on various factors such as age, overall health, suspected causative agents, and the setting in which the infection occurred—whether in the community or a healthcare facility—as well as the severity of the illness. In many cases, individuals with pneumonia can be managed at home.

    Treatment for pneumonia typically involves:

    1. Medications: This may include antibiotics to target bacterial infections, antiviral drugs for viral pneumonia, and medications to alleviate symptoms such as fever and cough. Antibiotic selection can be challenging due to the difficulty in distinguishing bacterial from viral pneumonia and the increasing bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Your healthcare provider may adjust the antibiotic regimen if there’s no improvement within a few days.

    2. Supportive care: Additional measures may include using a cool-mist humidifier or vaporizer to increase air moisture, oxygen therapy if blood oxygen levels are low, and ensuring adequate rest and hydration. Cough medicines may be recommended to help loosen phlegm and ease coughing.

    3. Hospitalization: While most cases of community-acquired pneumonia can be managed outside the hospital, hospital admission may be necessary if certain criteria are met. These criteria may include advanced age, confusion or disorientation, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, or the need for oxygen therapy.

    By tailoring treatment to individual needs and closely monitoring the patient’s progress, healthcare providers aim to effectively manage pneumonia and promote recovery while minimizing complications.