Pneumonia Diagnosis

Symptoms & Treatment

Dr. Phil Mitchell
Medically reviewed by Dr. Phil MitchellMarch 30th, 2024
DispatchHealth providers in the filed

Pneumonia (pronounced: nuh-mown-yuh) is a common lung infection that can cause cough, fever, and shortness of breath. Pneumonia can be caused by bacteria, viruses, and other germs, but it’s often hard to tell which one is the culprit. This can make treating pneumonia more difficult, since antibiotics only work against infections caused by bacteria.

How Pneumonia is Diagnosed

Pneumonia is best diagnosed by a healthcare professional. Your provider may diagnose the condition by listening to your lungs or may suggest a chest x-ray.

Common Treatments for Pneumonia

Most people with bacterial pneumonia start feeling better within 3 days of starting antibiotics. However, the lingering cough from a lung infection can last for weeks or months, even after it was properly treated.

  • Prescription antibiotics are commonly used for bacterial pneumonia.
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) may be recommended for fever relief.
  • Over-the-counter cough drops or one teaspoon of honey may be used to soothe a sore throat.
  • Your provider may recommend an over the counter or prescription cough medicine.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water to make it easier to cough up mucus.

Safety Recommendation with Pneumonia

  • If you’ve been prescribed antibiotics, it’s essential to take all the pills as directed, even if you start feeling better, to make sure the infection clears up completely and doesn’t return.
  • Don’t take ibuprofen if you have heart, kidney or liver disease, a history of ulcers or if you take blood-thinning medications.
  • Avoid smoking and other lung irritants like pollution, dust or fumes.
  • Follow up with your primary care provider in 1-3 days to make sure you’re getting better. If you can’t see your primary provider, DispatchHealth may recommend that you schedule a follow-up appointment with us.

Healthy Habits for the Lungs

  • Get vaccinated to protect against infections that can cause pneumonia such as the flu, COVID-19, RSV, and pneumonia.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Get seen by a heathcare professional right away if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms with pneumonia.

  • Chest pain, pressure, or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath, especially when walking or lying flat
  • Oxygen levels dropping below 90%
  • Feeling dizzy or weak
  • Fainting or feeling like you might faint
  • Mental confusion
  • Symptoms getting worse or not improving within 2-3 days of starting antibiotics

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