The treatment for pneumonia should be prescribed by a pulmonologist and is indicated according to the infectious agent responsible for the pneumonia, so the treatment depends whether the disease is being caused by viruses or bacteria. Most of the time, treatment for pneumonia begins in the hospital to prevent disease progression and transmission to others.
Generally, the easiest cases to treat are those caused by viruses, because the body is able to eliminate them naturally without the need for antibiotics. Therefore, viral pneumonia is almost always less severe and can be treated at home with basic care, such as resting or drinking lots of water.
On the other hand, when pneumonia is caused by bacteria, treatment should be done using antibiotics because the body cannot eliminate the microorganism by itself. In addition, there is a risk of the bacteria spreading to other parts of the body, which makes the pneumonia more severe. In such cases, the patient is usually required to be admitted to the hospital for antibiotic treatment directly into the vein before going home.
How is the treatment done at home for pneumonia
At home is very important to maintain all indications, using all the medication prescribed by your doctor. In addition, cautions are needed to be taken to accelerate treatment such as:
- Avoid leaving the house during the entire treatment, which can vary from 5 days to 3 weeks, depending on the type of pneumonia, because even if you not present symptoms, it is possible to transmit the disease to others;
- Drink about 2 liters of water a day to avoid dehydration;
- Avoid using cough medication without doctor's advice;
- Wear appropriate clothing to environment temperature, avoiding abrupt changes.
Pneumonia is not always contagious, but its transmission is more frequent in cases of viral pneumonia, even during treatment. Therefore, patients should wear masks and avoid coughing or sneezing near other people, especially children, the elderly or patients with diseases that weaken the immune system such as lupus or HIV.
Treatment may take up to 21 days and during this time it is advised to go to the hospital only if symptoms worsen or do not improve after 5 to 7 days.
How is treatment for pneumonia done at the hospital
Treatment at the hospital is more common in cases of bacterial pneumonia, as the disease progresses very rapidly and may endanger the patient's life. It is therefore important to stay in the hospital to receive the medication directly into the vein and to keep a constant assessment of all vital signs until the disease is controlled, which can take up to 3 weeks.
In addition, during hospitalization it may also be necessary to keep an oxygen mask to decrease the work your lung has to do, which can facilitate recovery.
In more severe cases, which are more frequent in the elderly, children or patients with autoimmune diseases, the disease can evolve greatly and prevent the lungs from functioning, being necessary to be admitted to an ICU to guarantee breathing with a ventilator, which is a machine which replaces the lung during treatment.
Signs of improvement
Signs of improvement include reduced breathing difficulty, improved shortness of breath, and decreased fever. In addition, when there is a production of secretions, it is possible to observe the change in color from greenish to yellow, then whitish and finally transparent, until it disappears.
Signs you are getting worse
The signs that you are getting worse are more frequent when treatment is not started soon or when the patient has an immune disease, for example, and includes increased coughing with phlegm, presence of blood in the secretions, worsening of fever, and increased shortness of breath.
In these cases, it is usually necessary to be admitted to the hospital to begin treatment with medication directly into the vein, as they are more effective.