The treatment you receive for pneumonia depends on the type of pneumonia you have and how sick you are. Pneumonia can be more serious and cause more complications in elderly people, infants, and anyone with a poor immune system or other serious illness. You may have pneumonia if you experience the following symptoms: Chest pain when you breathe or cough Chills Feeling worse after a bout of cold or flu Fever Phlegmy cough that doesn’t seem to be getting better Shortness of breath If you think you may have pneumonia, don’t try to treat yourself—visit your doctor. When treating pneumonia, your doctor will try to get rid of the infection and prevent complications. Your doctor may order tests to help identify the type of pneumonia—either bacterial, viral, or some other germ. The specific medication and length of treatment vary for different types of pneumonia. Bacterial Pneumonia Antibiotics can help when bacteria cause pneumonia. Be sure to take your medication exactly as your doctor prescribes. You may feel better in as little as 1 to 3 days, but continue taking your medication according to the prescription label. If you stop too soon, your pneumonia can return. Keep in mind that some symptoms could continue after completing treatment. A cough can linger for several weeks. Viral Pneumonia If you have viral pneumonia, antiviral medication can treat it. Antibiotics won’t help viral pneumonia. Your doctor may recommend certain over-the-counter medications to treat symptoms, such as fever, pain and cough. With treatment, viral pneumonia improves within 1 to 3 weeks. Severe Pneumonia You may need to be hospitalized if you develop severe pneumonia or complications due to pneumonia. Oxygen therapy could be necessary if pneumonia makes it difficult for you to breathe. Intravenous antibiotics are sometimes used to treat bacterial pneumonia. What You Can Do There are also steps you can take to help yourself feel better at home. In addition to taking medications as prescribed: Drink plenty of fluids, such as water, hot tea, and soup. Fluids help you stay hydrated and break up the mucus in your lungs. Get plenty of rest to help your body fight the infection. Stop smoking. It’s also important to avoid secondhand smoke as well as smoke from fireplaces and other areas. Take a warm bath or use a cool-mist humidifier. The moisture can help make it easier for you to breathe. Take time off from school or work until your fever breaks and you’re no longer coughing up mucus. The germs that cause pneumonia are contagious. Check with your doctor to see when it’s OK to return to your regular activities. See Your Doctor When you’re diagnosed with pneumonia, your doctor will schedule a follow-up appointment. At this visit, your doctor may take a chest X-ray to make sure your infection has cleared. Go to your appointment even if you’re feeling better. You can still have the infection without experiencing noticeable symptoms. Your doctor will want to make sure that treatment is working, or he or she may need to make adjustments to your treatment plan in order to get rid of the infection. Ask your doctor if you have questions about your treatment.