How to Recover From Pneumonia

Three Methods:Consulting Your DoctorGetting WellReturning to Your Healthy Self

Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs. When inflamed, the air sacs may fill with fluid, causing patients to suffer from cough, fever, chills, and to have difficulty breathing. It is possible to treat pneumonia with antibiotics, fever reducers and cough medicine, though in some cases — particularly for those with a weakened immune system, newborns, and the elderly — it requires hospitalization. [1] Despite the possible severity of pneumonia, it is possible for otherwise healthy individuals to completely recover within one to three weeks. [2]

Part 1
Consulting Your Doctor

  1. Image titled Recover From Pneumonia Step 1
    Recognize the warning signs. For healthy individuals, pneumonia can start like the flu or a bad cold. The major difference is that the feeling of being sick will last much longer when you are suffering from pneumonia. If you are experiencing prolonged sickness, you may have pneumonia, so it is important to know the symptoms to look out for. Specific symptoms will vary from person to person, but they generally include some or all the following. [3]
    • Fever, sweating and shaking chills
    • Cough, which may produce phlegm
    • Chest pain when you breathe or cough
    • Shortness of breath
    • Tiredness
    • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
    • Confusion
    • Headache
  2. Image titled Recover From Pneumonia Step 2
    Seek out your doctor. If you are experiencing the above symptoms, and have a fever of 102°F (39°C) or higher, you should notify your healthcare professional. He will be able to advise you on the best course of action. This is especially true for vulnerable groups, which include children under two, adults over 65 and people with a weakened immune system. [4]
  3. Image titled Recover From Pneumonia Step 3
    Plan the road to recovery. Once at your doctor's office, she will perform a number of tests to determine if you do indeed have pneumonia. If you do, the doctor will be able to either recommend treatment or, in some cases, suggest hospitalization. When you visit the doctor, you can expect her to begin with a physical exam and to possibly move on to a number of other tests. [5]
    • The doctor will listen to your lungs with a stethoscope, listening specifically for crackling, bubbling, and rumbling sounds when you inhale, and for areas of your lungs where the sound of breathing cannot be heard as normal. The doctor may order a chest X-ray.
    • Note that viral-based pneumonia does not have a known treatment. Your doctor will inform you what to do in this case.
    • For hospitalized cases, you will receive antibiotics, intravenous fluids, and possibly oxygen therapy to treat pneumonia.

Part 2
Getting Well

  1. Image titled Recover From Pneumonia Step 4
    Follow your doctor's orders exactly once at home. Pneumonia is treated primarily with antibiotics, usually azithromycin, clarithromycin, or doxycycline. Your doctor will chose which specific antibiotic you should take based upon your age and medical history. [6] Once your doctor provides you with a prescription, have it filled immediately by bringing it to your local pharmacy. It is very important that you finish the full course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor and follow any instructions written on the bottle, unless instructed otherwise by your doctor. [7]
    • Even if you feel better, stopping antibiotics early can create bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.[8]
  2. Image titled Recover From Pneumonia Step 5
    Take it slow and easy. For otherwise healthy individuals, the antibiotics prescribed by your doctor will typically begin to make you feel better in approximately one to three days. During these first days of recovery, it is vital that you get plenty of rest and that you drink plenty of fluids. Even after you begin to feel better you should not overexert yourself, as your immune system is still recovering. This is important because overexertion may lead to a reoccurrence of pneumonia.
    • Drinking fluids (particularly water) will help break up mucus in your lungs.
    • Again, finish the entire course of medication prescribed by your doctor.
  3. Image titled Recover From Pneumonia Step 6
    Eat a healthy diet. Eating the right food cannot cure pneumonia, however, a good diet can assist in a normal recovery. Colorful fruits and vegetables should be eaten regularly. They contain antioxidants, which help your body resist and recover from disease. Whole grains are important as well. They are a good source of carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals that will boost your immune system and boost energy. Finally add protein-rich foods to your diet. Protein provides the body with anti-inflammatory fats. Always check with your doctor if you plan on making significant changes to your diet.
    • Try eating oats and brown rice to add whole grains to your diet.
    • Try eating beans, lentils, skinless chicken, and fish to add protein to your diet. Avoid fatty meats, such as red meat or processed meat.
    • Again, drink plenty of fluids to hydrate and help thin out any mucus in your lungs.
    • Some studies have suggested that vitamin D helps with recovery from pneumonia, though this is unproven.
    • Chicken soup is a good source of fluids, electrolytes, protein, and vegetables!
  4. Image titled Recover From Pneumonia Step 7
    Revisit your doctor if necessary. Some (but not all) doctors will schedule a follow up visit. This will typically take place one week after your initial visit, and the doctor will want to make sure the prescribed antibiotics are working. If you do not feel any improvement over the course of this first week, you should call your doctor immediately to schedule a follow up appointment.
    • Normal recovery time from pneumonia is one to three weeks, though you should begin to feel better after several days of antibiotics.
    • If symptoms persist for a week after you have begun taking antibiotics, this may be a sign you are not recovering, and you should contact your doctor immediately.
    • If the infection persists with antibiotic treatment, patients may still require hospital-level care.

Part 3
Returning to Your Healthy Self

  1. Image titled Recover From Pneumonia Step 8
    Resume your usual routine gradually, and with your doctor's permission. Keep in mind that you will be easily exhausted and you may want to start slow. Try to be out of bed and be active without becoming too tired. You can gradually work your way up to one or two daily activities in order to give your body a chance to fully recuperate. [9]
    • You can begin with simple breathing exercises in bed. Inhale deeply and hold for three seconds, then release with lips partially closed.
    • Work your way up to short walks around your home or apartment. Once this is not exhausting, begin to walk longer distances.
  2. Image titled Recover From Pneumonia Step 9
    Protect yourself and your immune system. Remember that while recovering from pneumonia, your immune system is in a weakened state. It is a good idea to protect your weakened immune system by avoiding individuals who are ill and by avoiding highly populated areas such as shopping malls or markets.
  3. Image titled Recover From Pneumonia Step 10
    Take care about returning to school or work. Given the risk of infection, you should not return to school or work until your temperature returns to normal and you are no longer coughing up mucus. Again, doing too much can risk a reoccurrence of pneumonia.


  • Get a flu shot each fall. The flu shot is readily available at local pharmacies, and can often prevent pneumonia. [10]

Article Info

Categories: Respiratory Health