Pneumonia is a very common lung infection that can be caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses. It often lasts for between 1-3 weeks and is not serious enough to be admitted to the hospital. In most cases, though, not treating pneumonia can be fatal for some, especially in the elderly and those with other health problems such as COPD, liver failure, or emphysema.
Treating Pneumonia at Home
Most cases can be cured at home by getting plenty of bed rest to avoid heavy breathing and by drinking plenty of fluids to assist your lungs in bringing up excessive amounts of phlegm. You should also take aspirin, NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, or acetaminophen to combat your fever, but do not give aspirin to children who have pneumonia.
You should also avoid cough medicine unless your doctor says it's okay, as you need to cough up phlegm regularly, though excessive coughing is a sign of more severe pneumonia. Symptoms should begin to lessen in severity after treating pneumonia for about 72 hours.
Treating Serious Cases of Pneumonia
If your case is severe enough that you must go to a hospital, your specific course of treating pneumonia will depend on what type of the disease you have. Most forms of bacterial pneumonia can be cured with large amounts of macrolide antibiotics such as azithromycin or clarithromycin, delivered either orally or by intravenous fluid depending on how much you need. You may also receive oxygen to increase the oxygen in your blood, which will be depleted in severe cases.
Some patients will receive medication to ease both chest pain and severe coughing fits, though that is only necessary in the worst cases. Viral pneumonia can't be cured by antibiotics, though you may receive antivirals depending on the virus in question. This form of the disease usually clears up between 1-3 weeks, depending on the severity.
Fungal Pneumonia Treatments
Fungal pneumonia is treated by antifungal medications specifically targeting the fungus that's in your lungs. Sometimes dead cells will need to be surgically removed to further your treatment, meaning that damaged or unhealthy lung tissue will need to be removed to help healthier tissue heal faster. Most people will be cured within 7-10 days of treating pneumonia, though people over age 50 and those with other health problems could take as long as 3 weeks to return to normal health and activity.
If you've contracted the more uncommon mycoplasma pneumonia, you could remain weak for a longer period of time. In all of these cases, however, adequate rest is the best way to ensure a proper recovery.