Information for the public

Treating pneumonia

If you have pneumonia, your doctor should assess how serious it is using your age, the symptoms you have and your blood pressure. This will help your doctor to decide whether you should be looked after at home or in hospital (although your doctor should also take into account other things that might affect where you should be cared for, such as any other health problems you have and whether you have support at home). It will also help your doctor to decide what treatment you should have.

More severe pneumonia

If your pneumonia is more severe (called moderate or high severity), you may need to go into hospital for treatment. You should be offered blood and sputum (phlegm) tests, and possibly a urine test, to help find out what is causing your infection.

If you are being treated in hospital, one of the tests that you may be offered when you are first admitted is a blood test called a C‑reactive protein (or CRP test). Your doctor should repeat this test if you are not getting better or your symptoms are worse after 2 or 3 days of antibiotics.

You shouldn't usually be offered treatment with a drug called a glucocorticosteroid (more often known as a steroid) unless you need it for another condition.

What to expect after starting your antibiotics

Your doctor should explain to you that your symptoms should start to improve after taking antibiotics, but that some people get better quicker than others and this may depend on how severe your pneumonia is.

You should expect that after:

  • 1 week your fever should be gone

  • 4 weeks your chest will feel better and you will produce less phlegm

  • 6 weeks you will be coughing less and finding it easier to breathe

  • 3 months most of your symptoms will be gone, but you may still feel tired.

By 6 months you should feel back to normal.

Tell your doctor if you think your symptoms are getting worse or if they're not improving as expected.

Before you leave hospital

If you are being cared for in hospital, your doctor or nurse should carry out some checks to help decide when you can go home.

You shouldn't usually be discharged if you have had 2 or more of the following problems in the past 24 hours:

  • a high temperature

  • a fast heart or breathing rate

  • a low amount of oxygen in your blood

  • low blood pressure

  • confusion

  • difficulty eating without help.

You might also have to stay longer in hospital if you have a temperature over 37.5°C.

  • Information Standard