Pneumonia can be treated through different methods depending on the type, as well as the severity of the disease.1
Taking prescribed medications and having follow-up check-ups with your physician are the usual courses of action for pneumonia patients. Some patients may even need bed rest or hospitalization depending on the state of their health.2 In some cases, chest X-rays may even be done to check if the pneumonia was healed successfully.3
However, given the different natures and causes of pneumonia, it is important that your physician examines your case thoroughly and prescribes the necessary solutions to effectively heal this disease.
Bacterial pneumonia patients are usually prescribed antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria strain that caused the illness. Following your physician's instruction is a must because the disease might return if treatment is stopped.4 The prescribed antibiotics would depend on:5
• Patient's age
• Existing chronic medical conditions and/or allergies
• Tobacco and/or alcohol use
• Other medications the person is using
Intravenous antibiotics might be required for very old or young patients who have shortness of breath or high fever.6 Cough medicines to lessen the impact of the cough and make you excrete the mucus and/or fever medicines to decrease bodily temperature may be prescribed by your physician.7
People with mycoplasma pneumonia are also given antibiotics, but there are different antibiotics per age group. Children are also given macrolides to prevent them from being affected with potentially dangerous side effects. Some of the antibiotics prescribed for mycoplasma pneumonia include:8
✓ For Children
✓ For Adults
There are instances when corticosteroids or anti-inflammatory medications9 such as prednisone or methylprednisone are prescribed to the patient. Immunomodulatory therapy is also recommended among patients with a severe case of mycoplasma pneumonia, along with antibiotics, corticosteroids or intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg).10,11
Antibiotics are also used to treat aspiration pneumonia, but this really depends on the severity of the illness and the health of the person prior to having the disease. Because of this, some people may need:12
• Usage of a ventilator or breathing machine to support breathing
• Testing of your swallowing function (because other feeding methods may be necessary) to lessen aspiration risk
A bronchoscopy may be performed to remove the pneumonia-causing object. The procedure entails the use of a tube to look into your lungs' airways.13 Unlike these first three types of pneumonia, viral pneumonia patients don't need to take antibiotics, given that the main cause of the illness is a virus and not a bacteria strain.14 Instead, antiviral drugs are prescribed.
Take note that antiviral medicines don't work against other types of pneumonias, but if it's the flu or herpes virus that triggered your sickness, then these medicines will work.15 Your physician may also endorse the following procedures or medicines:16
• Aspirin or ibuprofen to lessen the fever
• Cough and/or pain-relieving medicines to help regulate chest pain from frequent coughing
• Oxygen therapy
• Using a humidifier or other breathing treatments
Some patients may be at risk for dehydration, especially those who are of old age and have chronic health conditions. Because of this, they may need to stay in the hospital for a period of time.17
Antifungal medications in oral or intravenous form are given to patients with fungal pneumonia.18 These medications, which include first-, second-, and third-generation triazoles and echinocandins, should be chosen based on the particular pathogen that is inaccessible or is said to cause the pneumonia.19
The Drawbacks of Common Pneumonia Medications
Some of you may wonder why antibiotics are being recommended for pneumonia treatment, especially if you've taken note of the potential dangers of using antibiotics to treat illnesses. Antibiotics eliminate beneficial bacteria residing in your gut, resulting in a domino effect. These include negative changes in the gut microbiome, higher levels of leptin and ghrelin (hunger hormones) and body mass index (BMI), and even obesity.
However, if antibiotics are extremely necessary, make sure to take a high-quality probiotic supplement a few hours before or after taking the antibiotic. Not only do probiotics replenish the amount of good bacteria in your gut, but they also:
• Improve mental and psychological health
• Enhance your immune system
• Help in digesting food, especially those that are hard-to-digest or might be sensitive for some people
• Boost B vitamin synthesis and calcium absorption
• Stimulate better vaginal health in women
You should exercise caution if your physician prescribes over-the-counter medicines such as acetaminophen (popularly known as Tylenol) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or aspirin.
High rates of hospitalizations, emergency room visits and even liver failure fatalities are linked to acetaminophen. What's more, acetaminophen overdoses are becoming quite common, even if you slightly go over the amount prescribed. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also found out that excess acetaminophen is connected to liver damage and negative skin reactions.20,21
Ibuprofen, aspirin and other variants of NSAIDs are also a big no-no when it comes to treating pneumonia because of their potential side effects, such as:
• Heart problems
• Gastrointestinal bleeding
• Kidney problems
• High blood pressure
What's more, if you're pregnant, your risk for miscarriage, prolonged labor and low amniotic fluid may go up if you take these medications. NSAIDs may affect your child as well, and can result in heart problems for your baby. If you want to heal from pneumonia, as much as possible, avoid gambling with conventional medicines that may have hidden dangers. Instead, opt for natural remedies that will provide your body with an arsenal that can get rid of pneumonia for good.
Go Natural With Your Pneumonia Treatments
One of the best ways to treat any type of disease (not just pneumonia) is to use what Mother Nature has to offer. There are a variety of herbs and plants that are able to do this. Some of the best homemade and natural remedies for pneumonia include:22,23
• Holy Basil: also known as tulsi,24 Holy Basil efficiently fights bacteria.25 Research published in the Indian Journal of Experimental Biology saw that Holy Basil oil has exceptional antibacterial activity against three types of bacteria strains.26 You can reap Holy Basil's benefits by chewing dried leaves or by drinking tulsi tea.27
• Garlic: this well-known vegetable contains allicin, a compound that's responsible for providing protection versus bacterial, viral and parasitic infections, preventing sicknesses, enhancing the immune system, and combatting oxidative and inflammatory stress to name a few.28 Eat garlic raw, add it to your favorite dish or take garlic capsules.
• Ginger: a pneumonia-fighting root vegetable, ginger eliminates toxins and heals spasmodic pneumonia.29 You can add fresh or dried ginger to smoothies, stir-fries, or salads, or make your own ginger tea by placing fresh ginger in boiling water.30
• Fenugreek tea: together with a few drops of lemon juice, this type of tea assists in clearing the fluid in your lungs and treating your cough.31
• Tea tree and eucalyptus oils: these two essential oils have antibacterial properties that can remove infection-causing agents. If you have fungal pneumonia, tea tree oil is beneficial because of its antifungal properties.
• Oregano oil: this essential oil has antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, making it ideal for many pneumonia patients. You can combine oregano oil with water and drink it.32
• Astragalus: this herb encourages antibody production, boosts immune system and raises your body's resistance to viruses and bacteria. There are capsules, powdered root and essential oils available today, but you can also infuse some dried astragalus root into water to make tea.
• Echinacea: this plant is helpful for pneumonia patients because it has antiviral and antibacterial capabilities.33,34 Echinacea also enables your immune cells to be more effective at combatting bacteria, viruses and abnormal cells, and raises the amount of immune system cells. Echinacea capsules and tinctures are available if you want to treat your pneumonia.35
• Goldenseal: pneumonia patients can benefit from goldenseal's antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. Moreover, an alkaloid present in goldenseal called berberine is great at fighting various bacteria, protozoa and fungi, and facilitates easier elimination of bacteria.36