You have pneumonia, which is an infection in your lungs. In the hospital, your doctors and nurses helped you breathe better. They also gave you medicine to help your body get rid of the germs that cause pneumonia. They also made sure you got enough liquids and nutrients.
What to expect at home
You will still have symptoms of pneumonia after you leave the hospital.
Your cough will slowly get better over 7 to 14 days.
Sleeping and eating may take up to a week to return to normal.
Your energy level may take 2 weeks or more to return to normal.
You will need to take time off work. For a while, you might not be able to do other things that you are used to doing.
Breathing warm, moist air helps loosen the sticky mucus that may make you feel like you are choking. Other things that may also help include:
Placing a warm, wet washcloth loosely over your nose and mouth
Filling a humidifier with warm water and breathing in the warm mist
Coughing helps clear your airways. Take a couple of deep breaths, 2 to 3 times every hour. Deep breaths help open up your lungs.
While lying down, tap your chest gently a few times a day. This helps bring up mucus from the lungs.
If you smoke, now is the time to quit. Do not allow smoking in your home.
Drink plenty of liquids, as long as your doctor says it is OK.
Drink water, juice, or weak tea.
Drink at least 6 to 10 cups a day.
Do not drink alcohol.
Get plenty of rest when you go home. If you have trouble sleeping at night, take naps during the day.
Your doctor may tell you to take antibiotics. These are medicines that kill the germs that cause pneumonia. Antibiotics help most people with pneumonia get better.
Do not miss any doses. Take the medicine until it is gone, even if you start to feel better.
Do not take cough or cold medicines unless your doctor says it is OK. Coughing helps your body get rid of mucus from your lungs.
Your doctor or nurse will tell you if it is OK to use acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) for fever or pain. If these medicines are OK to use, your doctor will tell you how often to take them.
Stay away from infections
Get a flu shot every year.
Ask your doctor if you need a pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccine.
Mandell LA, Wunderink RG, Anzueto A, et al. Infectious Diseases Society of America/American Thoracic Society consensus guidelines on the management of community-acquired pneumonia in adults. Clin Infect Dis. 2007;44:S27-S72.
Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.