Treatment depends on the severity and cause of pneumonia. Bacterial pneumonia is treated with antibiotics, but it cannot be used to treat viral pneumonia.
Treatment of pneumonia comprises respiratory support, which includes O2 if necessary, and antibiotics, which are given on the basis of Gram stain results. Antibiotics are given on the basis of probabilities according to patient age, epidemiology, host risk factors, and severity of illness, if Gram stain is not performed or does not establish a diagnosis.
Antibiotics are the main fundamental therapy for pneumonia. The antibiotics that are given depend on the nature of the pneumonia and the immune status of the patient. Amoxicillin, sometimes with added clarithromycin, is used as first-line therapy in the vast majority of community patients. In North America, where the typical forms of community-acquired pneumonia are becoming more common, clarithromycin, azithromycin, and fluoroquinolones have replaced the penicillin-derived drugs as first-line therapy. In immune deficient and hospitalized patients, local guidelines generally determine which combination of (generally intravenous) antibiotics is to be used. To remove secretions, when in hospital, respiratory treatments may be necessary. Steroid medications may be used, occasionally, to reduce wheezing if there is an underlying lung disease.
Most of the patients with mild pneumonia can be treated at home with oral antibiotics. Patients should drink plenty of liquids. Coughing should not be suppressed, because this is a significant reflex for clearing the lungs. Some physicians advise taking expectorants, for example guaifenesin (Breonesin, Glycotuss, Glytuss, Hytuss, Naldecon Senior EX, Robitussin), to loosen sputum. Codeine or other stronger pain relievers may be prescribed, for severe pain. However, it have to be noted that codeine and other narcotics suppress coughing, so they should be used with care in pneumonia and often require monitoring.
Most treatments for aspiration pneumonia concentrate on breathing support. An endotracheal tube (a breathing tube) is usually inserted into the trachea and O2 is pumped into the lungs.
Suction could be used to clear the air way and remove any remaining chemical or vomit out of the way. Antibiotics are prescribed only if a secondary lung infection develops.
How well a patient recovers from pneumonia depends on the type of pneumonia and the patient’s general health. Most patients with pneumonia recover completely. However, in infants under 1 year of age, the elderly, and those suffering from a serious illness, pneumonia can sometimes be fatal.
The medications mentioned in this page are to be taken only when prescribed by a physician. This page is a guide to help you understand the treatments of pneumonia better. Any medications and treatments should be taken only under a doctor’s supervision.