What can I do to feel better if I have pneumonia?

  • Finish all medications and therapies prescribed by your doctor. Do not stop taking antibiotics when you start feeling better. Continue taking them until no pills remain. If you don’t take all your antibiotics, your pneumonia may come back.
  • If over-the-counter medicines to reduce fever have been recommended (aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen), take as directed on the label. Never give aspirin to children.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to help loosen phlegm.
  • Quit smoking if you smoke. Don’t be around others who smoke or vape. Surround yourself with as much clean, chemical-free air as possible.
  • Use a humidifier, take a steamy shower or bath to make it easier for you to breathe.
  • Get lots of rest. Don’t rush your recovery. It can take weeks to get your full strength back.

If at any time you start to feel worse, call your doctor right away.

When can I return to work, school and regular activities if I have pneumonia?

You typically can resume your normal activities if your symptoms are gone, mild or improving and you do not have new or worsening:

  • Shortness of breath or tiredness (less energy)
  • Chest pain
  • Mucus, fever or cough

If you are generally healthy, most people feel well enough to return to previous activities in about a week. However, it may take about a month to feel totally back to normal.

When should I see a doctor?

Call your doctor if you:

  • Have new or worsening:
    • Shortness of breath with activities or when lying down
    • Fever or cough with mucus
    • Tiredness (fatigue)
  • Have a change in appetite (less hunger)
  • Feel uneasy and know that something is not right

If you or your loved one with symptoms is in a high, “at-risk” group, see your doctor as soon as possible. Pneumonia can become a life-threatening condition.

When should I go to the emergency room?

Go to the emergency room or call 911 if you:

  • Struggle to breathe or are short of breath while sitting still
  • Have new or worsening chest pain
  • Are confused or cannot think clearly

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