Treatments and drugsBy Mayo Clinic staff
The best approach to treating pneumonia depends on a number of factors, including your age and general health, the organism or organisms involved, and the setting — community or health care — where the infection developed. Treatment may include:
Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial pneumonia. Other medications may help improve breathing and relieve symptoms in bacterial and viral pneumonia. Medication options include:
- Antibiotics. The decision to treat pneumonia with an antibiotic isn't always straightforward. Even with a high likelihood of bacterial infection, it takes time to identify the bacterium involved and choose the best antibiotic to wipe it out. Initially, your doctor may prescribe a particular antibiotic based on trends in infection and antibiotic use in your area. If tests show that you need a different drug or your condition doesn't improve, you may switch to another antibiotic.
- Antivirals. Your doctor may recommend antiviral medication for viral pneumonia. Antibiotics are not effective for treating viral pneumonia.
- Fever reducers. You may treat your fever with aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen. (Children should not take aspirin.)
- Cough medicine. Talk to your doctor before taking cough medicine. Coughing helps loosen and get rid of extra sputum. If your doctor advises cough medicine, only take enough to calm your cough and get some rest.
Community-acquired pneumonia generally does not require hospital care. You may need to be admitted, however, if you have any two of these indicators of severity. If you have three or more, you may need admission to an intensive care unit:
- You are older than 65 years
- You become confused
- Your breathing is rapid
- Your blood pressure drops
- Your need breathing assistance, including oxygen or respiratory therapy
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