Pneumonia is an illness affecting the lungs and causing symptoms such as cough, fever, and chest pain. Home remedies can help ease the symptoms of pneumonia when used alongside medication prescribed by a doctor. Home remedies aren’t a cure-all or replacement for medicine, but they can be a useful addition to a pneumonia treatment plan.
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In the US, 1.5 million people visit an emergency department with pneumonia each year. Pneumonia is a lung infection that results in inflammation in the lung air sacs. These air sacs can also fill with fluid or pus.¹
Bacteria, viruses, and fungi can all cause pneumonia. The type of organism that infects the respiratory system will determine the type of pneumonia that develops.
The symptoms of pneumonia will vary depending on the type, but common signs include:
Breathing problems (including shortness of breath)
In mild cases, pneumonia may be treatable at home, but more severe cases require seeing a doctor and possibly hospitalization. Unfortunately, you can’t heal pneumonia on your own, but you can improve symptoms with home remedies and over-the-counter medications.
Pneumonia is the general term used to describe a lung infection. It is classified into subtypes based on the organism responsible and the precise location of the infection within the lung.
The main subtypes of pneumonia are:
Bacterial pneumonia: Bacterial pneumonia is caused by various bacteria, most commonly Streptococcus pneumoniae. Bacterial pneumonia can affect anyone, but immunocompromised people, smokers, drinkers, and those who have recently had a respiratory disease or viral infection are especially at risk.²
Viral pneumonia: Viral pneumonia is caused by a virus, such as influenza A or B. This type typically has a slower onset and is characterized by rhinitis (sneezing and a stuffy or runny nose) or wheezing.³
Mycoplasma pneumonia (atypical pneumonia): This type of pneumonia doesn’t usually cause symptoms. Atypical pneumonia is caused by a specific bacteria called Mycoplasma pneumoniae.⁴
Treatments for pneumonia will depend on the type and severity of the infection. Standard treatment options include:
Antibiotics for bacterial pneumonia
Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections, so not all types of pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics. In some cases, even bacterial infections don’t respond to antibiotic treatment. Research indicates the incidence of antibiotic treatment failure is 6–15%.⁵
Over-the-counter medications and home remedies may help manage symptoms. It’s important to follow medical advice once diagnosed with pneumonia, as it can develop into a serious illness.
Natural remedies can be a valuable addition to prescribed treatment plans, helping to target specific symptoms. The following natural remedies may prove useful for a range of pneumonia symptoms, but it’s essential to note that home remedies are no substitute for prescribed medications.
Peppermint and eucalyptus teas may help improve a sore throat, cough, and hoarseness, which are common among people with pneumonia.
A cool, damp cloth, fan, and light bedding and clothing can help reduce discomfort caused by a fever.
A humidifier may open your airways and make it easier to breathe.⁶
Ginger tea may be able to help reduce nausea. Plus, it tastes delicious!
Curcumin, which is present in turmeric, may be helpful in reducing pain and inflammation. However, more research is needed.
Hydration is key to helping your body function at its best while you’re sick, especially if you’ve lost fluids through sweating or vomiting. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, even if you don’t feel like it.
Caffeine may be useful for people with pneumonia because it can reduce inflammation and act as a weak bronchodilator in people with asthma. This means that it can help to relax the muscles in the lungs and make breathing easier. However, more research is needed.
If you have pneumonia, it’s important to follow medical advice and stick to the treatment plan prescribed by your doctor. Prioritize rest and focus on getting well. If you smoke or vape, resist the urge. Your lungs will thank you!
Pneumonia can develop into a severe and life-threatening illness in some cases. The elderly, very young, smokers, and immunocompromised people are at increased risk of developing serious complications from pneumonia.
It’s impossible to know what’s causing your pneumonia without seeing a doctor. While you may not need prescription treatments or hospitalization, it’s best to see your doctor confirm your diagnosis and ensure you get the appropriate treatment.
Home remedies can help manage the symptoms of pneumonia, but it’s essential to use them as supplements to (and not replacements for) medical advice and treatment.
Pneumonia | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Bacterial pneumonia (2022)
Viral pneumonia (2011)
Mycoplasma pneumonia (2022)
Pneumonia treatment and recovery | Lung.org
Overview - pneumonia | NHS
Caffeine for asthma (2010)
Pneumonia | Mount Sinai
Pneumonia | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Ginger benefits | Johns Hopkins Medicine