Treatment for pneumonia must be done under the supervision of a general practitioner or pulmonologist and is indicated according to the infectious agent responsible for the pneumonia, that is, whether the disease is being caused by viruses, fungi or bacteria. Most of the time, pneumonia treatment starts in the hospital with the aim of preventing the disease from progressing and transmitting to other people.
Generally, the simplest cases are those caused by viruses, either because the body is able to eliminate them naturally, without the need for medication, or because it already has a natural defense against the most common viruses or because it has had a vaccine, for example . Thus, viral pneumonia is almost always less severe, and can be treated at home with basic care, such as resting or taking expectorants and remedies for fever, for example.
On the other hand, when pneumonia is caused by bacteria, treatment must be done with the use of antibiotics, as the body cannot eliminate the microorganism on its own. In addition, there is a risk of spreading the bacteria to other parts of the body, which makes pneumonia more severe. In such cases, the patient is usually requested to be hospitalized so that antibiotic treatment can be started directly in the vein before going home.
How treatment is done at home
At home it is very important to keep all indications, using all the medicines prescribed by the doctor. In addition, it is necessary to take other precautions to speed up treatment such as
- Avoid leaving the house during the start of treatment, in the first 3 to 5 days, according to the type of pneumonia, because even if there are no symptoms, it is possible to transmit the disease to other people;
- Take medications at the correct times and doses, according to the doctor’s prescription;
- Drink about 2 liters of water a day, to avoid dehydration;
- Avoid using cough medications that have not been prescribed by the doctor;
- Wear clothing appropriate to the temperature, avoiding sudden 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 around other people, especially children, the elderly, or patients with diseases that weaken the immune system, such as Lupus or HIV. It is also important to remember to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or use alcohol gel, reducing the chances of transmission.
The treatment can take up to 21 days and during that period it is advisable to go to the hospital only if the symptoms get worse or if they do not improve after 5 to 7 days, especially fever and tiredness. The cough, usually dry or with little secretion, usually persists for a few more days, but with the use of medications or nebulizations prescribed by the doctor it tends to improve quickly.
Also see what to eat to cure pneumonia faster .
How the treatment is done at the hospital
Treatment at the hospital is more common in cases of bacterial pneumonia, as the disease evolves very quickly and can put the patient’s life at risk. Therefore, it is important to be hospitalized to receive the medications directly into the vein and to maintain a constant assessment of all vital signs until the disease is controlled, which can take up to 3 weeks. Understand how bacterial pneumonia is treated.
In addition, during hospitalization, it may also be necessary to keep an oxygen mask to decrease lung work and facilitate recovery.
In the most severe cases, which are more frequent in the elderly, children or patients with autoimmune diseases, the disease can progress a lot and prevent the functioning of the lungs, being necessary to stay in an ICU to guarantee breathing with a ventilator, which is a machine that replaces the lung during treatment.
Signs of improvement
Signs of improvement include reduced difficulty in breathing, improved shortness of breath and decreased fever. In addition, when secretions are produced, it is possible to observe a color change that changes from greenish, to yellow, whitish and, finally, transparent, until it disappears.
Signs of worsening
Signs of worsening are more frequent when treatment is not started soon or when the patient has an immune disease, for example, and include increased cough with phlegm, presence of blood in the secretions, worsening of fever and increased shortness of breath .
In these cases, it is usually necessary to stay in the hospital to start treatment with medication directly in the vein, as they are more effective.