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Treatments for Pneumonia

When the lungs develop a bacterial, viral or fungal infection, it results in an inflammation and causes pneumonia. The sacs in the lungs that are responsible for absorbing oxygen get filled with fluid or pus when they are unable to fight the infection. This can sometimes become so serious that it can prove fatal if not treated on time.

Who is at risk?

Usually the very young or elderly are at risk for this condition which can also occur by exposure to air contaminants and chemicals.  Those suffering from other health problems and a weak immune system are also susceptible. Others risk factors are:

  • Smoking

  • Alcohol abuse

  • An existing medical condition

  • Weak immune system

  • Medication for gastro oesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

  • Anaemia

  • Recovering from cold or flu

The symptoms vary but usually show up in the form of a productive cough, wheezing, high fever with chills or difficulty in breathing, headache, diarrhoea, body ache and profuse sweating.

Diagnosing the cause

A chest specialist can diagnose pneumonia through a full physical examination using a stethoscope to listen to the chest and by studying the patient’s medical history. Usually, chest X-rays, various blood tests and sputum analysis are prescribed to determine the cause.  Sometimes, a procedure called bronchoscopy is carried out where a thin lighted tube is inserted via the nose or mouth to take a direct look at the lung infection.

Treatment options

Depending on the type of pneumonia and its severity, there are a number of ways to treat it. Treatment aims at curing the infection to prevent it from getting complicated.

Bacterial and viral pneumonia are common, although fungal infections also occur. Antibiotic resistant organisms are known to cause serious infections.

Bacterial Pneumonia

Those who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD and other chronic diseases like cancer, HIV / AIDS and rheumatoid arthritis are most likely to develop a bacterial infection. When bacteria are the cause, oral or intravenous antibiotics are prescribed. Even if you begin to feel better after a couple of days, staying through the full course of the treatment is very important to ensure that you are cured completely and get rid of the cough and fever that accompany it.

Viral Pneumonia

This is treated with plenty of rest and a liquid diet as antibiotics are not effective although, in some cases, an antiviral may be prescribed.  This takes up to three weeks to improve.

If the symptoms are severe, hospitalisation may be necessary especially if there is a risk of complications from underlying health issues. Low oxygen levels in the blood may require the administration of oxygen.

For relief from symptoms like fever, cough and body ache, over the counter medications are also used. Whatever the medication, plenty of rest and fluids are advised.


The old adage “prevention is better than cure” holds perfectly true for pneumonia. Here are some tips:

  • Washing hands often

  • Quitting smoking 

  • Protecting oneself with a mask in dusty or mouldy environments

  • Getting a vaccination

  • Leading a healthy lifestyle

With pneumonia, following the treatment advised by the doctor and sticking to the follow up schedule is necessary to ensure the treatment is working. Even if you feel better, the fatigue can persist. Continue to see your doctor for follow up tests to confirm that you are cured so that you are fit enough to return to your normal routine.