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Diagnosis & treatment of pneumonia

How is pneumonia diagnosed?

A doctor may ask:1

  1. If you feel breathless or you're breathing faster than normal
  2. The length of time that you have had your cough and if you're coughing up mucus
  3. If the pain in your chest is worse when breathing in or out

To further help with diagnosis a doctor may also:1

  • Take your temperature and listen to your chest and back with a stethoscope
  • Tap and listen to your chest; Lungs filled with fluid make a different noise to healthy lungs.1

How is pneumonia treated?

The treatment of pneumonia varies depending on the type of pneumonia, age, overall health and the severity of your condition.1,2

Mild pneumonia can usually be treated at home by:1

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Getting plenty of rest

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Drinking plenty of fluids

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Taking antibiotics as prescribed by a doctor if the pneumonia is thought to be caused by a bacterial infection

Complications of pneumonia

You will be admitted to hospital for treatment should you develop one of these complications:1,2

  • Pleurisy – where the thin linings between your lungs and ribcage (pleura) become inflamed. This can lead to respiratory failure
  • Respiratory failure – when your lungs cannot provide enough oxygen for your blood. A machine will be used to assist your breathing
  • A lung abscess – a rare complication that is mostly seen in people with a serious pre-existing illness or a history of severe alcohol misuse
  • Sepsis (blood poisoning) – also a rare but serious complication
View References
  1. NHS Inform. Pneumonia. Available at: Last accessed January 2024.
  2. Asthma and Lung UK. How is pneumonia diagnosed and treated. Available at: Last accessed January 2024.