Pneumonia: How to Feel Better

Medically Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on December 07, 2020

You’ve gone to the doctor for a diagnosis. You've picked up your prescriptions or over-the-counter medications. Is there anything left to do besides wait for the pneumonia to pass?

Absolutely. While your lungs are fighting off infection, there are many ways to feel better. Follow these simple steps to make a big difference.

The Home Stretch

Home is where healing happens. Though cabin fever may set in after a few days, stay home from school or work until your fever breaks and your cough goes away. This protects your body and lowers your risk of infecting others.

Rest Assured

Staying home and resting are two different things. This is not the time to tackle that big outdoor project or clean out your closets. Be still and let your body rest. This helps it fully focus on fighting the infection.

Liquid Assets

Drink, drink, then drink some more. Fluids hydrate the body, loosen mucus in the lungs, and help bring up phlegm. Take in lots of water. Boil a big mug of warm tea. Sip clear soups.

Cough It Up

Though it may not feel like it to you, coughing can be a good thing. It helps your body get rid of infection. Don’t suppress it with cough medicine. If your cough is keeping you from resting, check with your doctor.

Where There's Smoke …

Stay away from smoke to let your lungs heal. This includes smoking, secondhand smoke, lit fireplaces, and polluted air. Exposure to smoke may increase risk for future lung problems, including another round of pneumonia.

Doctor’s Orders

Whether your doctor recommends prescription or over-the-counter medication, follow all directions carefully. If you’re taking antibiotics, don’t skip a dose or stop taking them when you feel better. This can cause bacteria to stick around and multiply, making your recovery time longer. It can also increase your resistance to antibiotics in the future.

Temp Time

Pneumonia and fevers often go hand in hand. Get those high temps back to normal with over-the-counter medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen.

Breathe Easier

Having a hard time breathing? Clear your lungs with a cool-mist humidifier or warm bath

Take It Slow

Pneumonia can come back, so take it slow when you start to feel better to ensure a full recovery. Taking on too much too soon can send you straight back to bed.

Keep It Clean

Keep germs at bay by washing your hands regularly, coughing into your elbow, and cleaning areas like refrigerator handles that get touched often.

Show Sources


Family Doctor: "Pneumonia Treatment."

Mayo Clinic: "Pneumonia Self-management."

American Lung Association: "Diagnosing and Treating Pneumonia."

CDC: "Pneumonia Can Be Prevented --Vaccines Can Help."

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