Pneumonia diagnosis and treatment

How is pneumonia diagnosed?

For a pneumonia diagnosis, your doctor may ask questions and conduct some examinations.

A doctor may ask:1

  1. If you feel breathless or you're breathing faster than normal
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  2. The length of time that you have had your cough and if you're coughing up mucus
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  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
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  • 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

Getting plenty of rest

Drinking plenty of fluids

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

More severe pneumonia may need to be treated in the hospital.1,3

Complication of pneumonia

Possible complications of pneumonia include:1

  • Pleurisy – where the thin linings between your lungs and ribcage (pleura) become inflamed, which can lead to respiratory failure
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  • A lung abscess – a rare complication that's mostly seen in people with a serious pre-existing illness or a history of severe alcohol misuse
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  • Sepsis (blood poisoning) – also a rare but serious complication
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You will be admitted to hospital for treatment if you develop one of these complications.

View References
  1. NHS. Pneumonia. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pneumonia/. Last accessed October 2021.
  2. NHS. Pneumonia Treatment. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pneumonia/treatment/ . Last Accessed October 2021.
  3. BLF. Pneumonia diagnosis and treatment. Available at :​​​​​​​ https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/pneumonia/diagnosis-and-treatment/ . Last Accessed October 2021.
PP-VAC-GBR-1836 October 2021