Yes, you can treat pneumonia at home if you meet certain criteria. It is important to understand those criteria properly, because pneumonia can potentially become a life-threatening illness.
If you are concerned about possible pneumonia, you need to talk to your doctor. You may be able to treat pneumonia at home, but you cannot diagnose pneumonia without being evaluated by your doctor. Your doctor will most likely give you antibiotics to take home. You may need to take anti-viral medication if you have pneumonia from the flu.
In this article, I will describe the criteria you need to meet in order to treat pneumonia at home. I will also tell you things you need to look out for while being treated for pneumonia at home. You will know when you need to call your doctor and when you need to call 911. I will also tell you what to expect when treating pneumonia at home.
If you would like to get an overview of different types of pneumonia and their symptoms, you need to read this article.
If you are too sick from pneumonia to treat it at home, you may need hospitalization. To understand when you need to be hospitalized for pneumonia and what to expect when hospitalized with pneumonia, I suggest you read this article.
When can you treat pneumonia at home?
Here is the criteria that you need to meet to be able to treat pneumonia at home:
- You need to be relatively healthy and be able to take care of yourself or have someone at home to look after you.
- You need to have normal oxygen levels.
- You should not be having any shortness of breath.
- You should not be running out of breath with minimal activity.
- Your breathing should not be rapid and shallow.
- You should not have a rapid heart rate.
- You should not be dehydrated.
- You should not be feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
- You should be able to swallow pills without any issues
- You are not having persistent nausea and vomiting
- You don’t have underlying chronic heart or lung disease
- You don’t have uncontrolled diabetes
- You don’t have decreased mobility
If you meet all of the criteria, you can continue to treat pneumonia at home as long as you are taking the prescribed treatment.
When do you need to call your doctor while treating pneumonia at home?
There are certain situations that should make you alarmed when treating pneumonia at home. You need to look out for these signs, as they could potentially indicate things getting worse or not getting better. They could also mean that you have developed some complications from your pneumonia.
Here are those signs:
Here are those signs:
- You are still having high fevers and chills 48 hours after starting your antibiotics at home.
- You have a new itchy rash after taking the prescribed antibiotics.
- You feel weaker 48 hours after taking antibiotics at home.>You have a new sharp pain in your chest when you take a deep breath.
- You feel lightheaded when you stand up.
- You have to stop to catch a breath when climbing a flight of stairs at home.
- You have significantly reduced urine output and have dark-colored urine.
In these situations, your doctor may change your medications, send you to the ER, or get you hospitalized directly, based on the specific situation.
When do you need to call 911 while treating pneumonia at home?
There are certain situations that require urgent evaluation. In these situations, calling your regular doctor may waste valuable time. You need to call 911 and get yourself evaluated in the nearest emergency department right away. Here are those situations:
- You suddenly feel very short of breath while treating pneumonia at home.
- You have a new severe chest pain every time you inhale.
- You are breathing very rapidly.
- You feel like you are about to faint.
- You become confused and disoriented.
- You have a rapid heart rate associated with lightheadedness.
- You have a low body temperature.
When you are treating pneumonia at home, it is a good practice to check your temperature at least once a day. A persistent fever may be concerning, but if you detect a lower-than-normal body temperature, that could be disastrous. You need rapid evaluation and treatment.
What to expect when treating pneumonia at home
There are things that make you feel bad when treating pneumonia at home, but these don’t necessarily require any change in treatment:
- A bad cough: Persistent coughing is never pleasant. It is normal to have a bad cough for a prolonged period of time after pneumonia, even when you are recovering normally.
- Yellow phlegm: Persistent, thick, yellow phlegm may last for days, even when you are getting proper treatment for pneumonia at home.
- Persistent chest pain: If you had some chest pain when you were diagnosed with pneumonia, it may persist for some time. However, it is not normal if the pain gets worse or different.
- Lack of energy: You may have a persistent lack of energy after a successful treatment of pneumonia at home.
Can you treat pneumonia at home without antibiotics?
In theory, it is possible to treat pneumonia at home without antibiotics if your pneumonia is not caused by bacteria.
Antibiotics kill bacteria, but they don’t kill viruses. Viruses are technically not even living organisms; they are just molecules that can infect other living cells and use them to multiply. In theory, you don’t need antibiotics if you have viral pneumonia.
However, treating viral pneumonia without antibiotics is rarely done in practice. It is very difficult to diagnose viral pneumonia and to be 100% certain that it is all caused by a virus without any involvement of bacteria. Even when you test for and detect the flu virus and diagnose pneumonia from the flu, you can still have bacterial pneumonia on top of that. If you are sick enough from a viral pneumonia to seek medical attention, you usually get antibiotics to go take at home. If you have the flu and possible bacterial pneumonia on top of that, you go home with both antibiotics and anti-viral medication.
Sometimes you may have viral pneumonia and may not even know about it. Mild viral pneumonias may go undetected. Those people simply go to work or stay home and don’t require any specific treatment at home.
If you want to understand why you are at a higher risk of having bacterial pneumonia after the flu, you can read this article.
The only other type of pneumonia that you can treat at home without antibiotics is fungal pneumonia. Fungal pneumonia is difficult to diagnose, as the symptoms are very non-specific. When diagnosed with fungal pneumonia, you need anti-fungal medications, which are different from antibiotics. Most of the time, these fungal pneumonias can be treated at home with the right medication.
In conclusion, pneumonia can be treated at home after getting properly diagnosed at the doctor’s office if you are not too sick from it. You need to look out for signs of things getting worse if you are treating your pneumonia at home. Don’t be afraid to call your doctor or call 911 depending on the situation when things don’t go as planned.