If you are diagnosed with pneumonia, it is important to follow your treatment plan, take steps to help your body recover, monitor your condition, and take steps to prevent your infection from spreading to others.
It may take time to recover from pneumonia. Some people feel better and are able to return to their normal routines in one to two weeks. For others, it can take a month or longer. Most people continue to feel tired for about a month. Talk with your doctor about when you can return to your normal activities. Watch the video below to learn about managing your recovery at home.
Follow your treatment plan
It is important that you take all your medicines as your doctor prescribes. If you are using antibiotics, continue to take the medicine until it is all gone. You may start to feel better before you finish the medicine, but you should continue to take it. If you stop too soon, the bacterial infection and your pneumonia may come back. It may also become resistant to the antibiotic, making treatment more difficult.
Take steps to help your body recover
The following steps can help your body recover from pneumonia.
- Choose heart-healthy foods, because good nutrition helps your body recover.
- Drink plenty of fluids to help you stay hydrated.
- Don’t drink alcohol or use illegal drugs. Alcohol and illegal drugs weaken your immune system and can raise the risk of complications from pneumonia.
- Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. Breathing in smoke can worsen your pneumonia. Visit Smoking and Your Heart and Your Guide to a Healthy Heart. For free help quitting smoking, you may call the National Cancer Institute’s Smoking Quitline at 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848).
- Get plenty of sleep. Good quality sleep can help your body rest and improve the response of your immune system. For more information on sleep, visit our How Sleep Works health topic.
- Get light physical activity. Moving around can help you regain your strength and improve your recovery. However, you may still feel short of breath, and activity that is too strenuous may make you dizzy. Talk to your doctor about how much activity is right for you.
- Sit upright to help you feel more comfortable and breathe more easily.
- Take a couple of deep breaths several times a day.
Monitor your condition
Ask your doctor when you should schedule follow-up care. If your symptoms have not improved, your doctor may use a chest X-ray to help diagnose other conditions that may be causing your symptoms.
Your doctor may suggest pulmonary rehabilitation to help you breathe better as your lungs recover. You may also need physical therapy to help you regain your strength. Physical activity can help improve your recovery.
Pneumonia can have long-term effects such as depression, and worsening heart and blood vessel diseases. Call your doctor if you develop these conditions, if your symptoms suddenly get worse, or if you have trouble breathing or talking.
Take steps to protect yourself and others
The following steps can help you prevent spreading the infection to others around you.
- Cover your nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing.
- Get rid of used tissues right away.
- Limit contact with family and friends.
- Wash your hands often, especially after coughing and sneezing.
Some people get pneumonia again and again. Tell your doctor if this happens. Return to Prevention to find more strategies to help prevent pneumonia.