Pneumonia infections can be critical and may even be life-threatening in some cases. It is essential to visit a doctor for a diagnosis, as well as to monitor symptoms and avoid any complications.
Using a blend of medical treatments and home remedies may help many people manage their symptoms more easily.
Fast facts on pneumonia:
- Infections by viruses, fungi, bacteria, and other harmful organisms cause pneumonia.
- Many of the germs that can cause pneumonia are common in the environment.
- Healthy lifestyle choices may help reduce the risk of developing pneumonia.
Causes and symptoms
People often contract pneumonia from someone else or through a lingering infection, such as that caused by the flu virus.
Most of the time, the body fights off these infections. But if there are enough of the germs around, they can take over and cause a worse illness.
The most common symptoms of pneumonia include:
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- fatigue and muscle aches
Sometimes, additional symptoms can occur, such as a persistent cough that causes a headache.
At-home care to ease pneumonia symptoms
Every pneumonia treatment plan will involve some antiviral, antibiotic, or antifungal medication to treat the infection. Also, there are two rules to remember when recovering from pneumonia:
- Proper rest: A sick body needs plenty of downtime to heal. Refraining from physical activity and getting enough bed rest allows the body to focus on repairing itself, rather than using energy to power the muscles.
- Proper diet: Eating a varied diet rich in whole-food choices may help the body heal, and adequate liquid intake is essential. Water, herbal teas, soups, and broths are all easy ways to increase the liquid intake while recovering from pneumonia.
Also, there are some home treatments that may help clear up the annoying symptoms of pneumonia.
A cough may develop early on in the lifespan of pneumonia when the body is trying to expel fluid from the lungs to get rid of the infection. So, using a cough suppressant is not the best idea.
But it is still possible to reduce the severity of a cough, and there are a few simple ways to do this.
1. Peppermint, eucalyptus, and fenugreek tea
Many warm herbal teas may help soothe a scratchy throat, but herbs, such as peppermint or eucalyptus, may be more beneficial.
A study posted to Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that herbs, including peppermint and eucalyptus, had a soothing effect on the throat of people with upper respiratory tract infections. These herbs may help break up mucus and ease the pain and inflammation caused by pneumonia.
A separate review posted to the Journal of the Saudi Society of Agricultural Sciences noted that fenugreek seeds might help break down mucus. A tea made from ground fenugreek seeds may ease a persistent cough.
2. Saltwater gargle
Mucus sitting in the throat and chest can lead to more coughing and irritation. A warm saltwater gargle may help eliminate mucus or germs in the throat, which may provide some relief.
Shortness of breath
Having shortness of breath is a symptom of respiratory infections, as in the case of pneumonia.
Drinking a small amount of caffeine, such as a cup of coffee or black or green tea, may help with certain pneumonia symptoms. Caffeine may work to open up the airways in the lungs, which could help a person feel better satisfied by their breathing.
4. Warm, damp air
Inhaling warm, damp air may also help each breath feel less restrictive and keep the throat from tightening. Breathing the steam from a shower or breathing over a warm cup of tea may help in these cases.
Rest is vital for cellular repair in the body, but it may be especially beneficial for shortness of breath. Physical exertion should be kept to an absolute minimum with pneumonia.
Again, chest discomfort usually occurs when a person has pneumonia.
6. Ginger or turmeric tea
Chest pain may be caused when someone has a persistent cough. Dealing with a cough itself may help, but drinking a warm tea made with fresh ginger or turmeric root may also reduce this pain.
The roots of both of these plants can have a natural anti-inflammatory effect in the body.
Chopping up a thumb-sized piece of either root and boiling it in a few cups of water may provide enough tea to last throughout the day.
A high fever is another risk in people with pneumonia, and keeping a fever down is vital to avoiding complications.
When a person has a fever, keeping the body full of liquids and electrolytes is essential to prevent dehydration. Drinking iced beverages or eating homemade ice popsicles may help hydrate the body and cool it down.
8. Fenugreek tea
As the study posted to the Journal of the Saudi Society of Agricultural Sciences notes, making tea from fenugreek seeds may encourage a person to sweat, which could reduce their temperature.
9. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers
Some OTC drugs like ibuprofen (Advil) may help reduce symptoms, including fever and pain. It is important to take the medications with food and not exceed the recommended dosage.
10. Lukewarm bath or compress
Soaking the body in lukewarm water may help to cool it down. If taking a bath is not possible, towels or washcloths dunked in lukewarm water and rung out can be applied to the body to help it cool. Once the towels warm up, they can be dipped in the water and reapplied.
Chills are often a secondary symptom caused by a fever. When the fever breaks or ends, the chills may subside on their own.
11. Warm liquids
Drinking warm liquids may help warm the body up and prevent chills. This includes warm water, herbal teas, or a bowl of soup for added electrolytes and nutrients.
Additional natural compounds may help the body deal with the overall effects of pneumonia.
12. Additional natural compounds
These at-home products contain compounds that help fight off bacteria, viruses, or fungi and can include the following:
- raw honey
- cayenne pepper
- tea tree oil
When to see a doctor
Anyone who suspects they have pneumonia should see their doctor for a diagnosis and treatment. Once a doctor prescribes a treatment plan, it is essential to stick to it and finish the course of medication to give pneumonia the best chance of healing.
Also, taking all of the medication is essential to help keep the infection away for good.
Anyone who does not see an improvement in their symptoms after 3 or 4 days of treatment should visit their doctor again.
People who experience pneumonia once may be more likely to contract it again. It is advisable to talk to a doctor once treatment is complete to find ways to minimize the chance of pneumonia recurring.
Preventing pneumonia naturally
These should not be seen as a guaranteed prevention method, but more as giving the body the tools it needs to fight off invaders.
As a study posted to Gut Microbes points out, gut health is tied to immune health in humans. Taking good care of the gut by feeding it a varied diet and avoiding inflammatory foods may help keep the immune system strong and avoid infections.
Exercising, managing stress levels, and getting enough rest are also necessary for a person to stay healthy, and may give the body the best chance to avoid infections, including pneumonia.
Pneumonia can be serious, and should not be taken lightly. Most people notice their symptoms improve within the first few days of treatment, but it can take months to recover fully from the respiratory condition.
Giving the body plenty of rest, fluids and a healthy diet that is rich in nutrients is crucial to allow it to heal. Natural home treatments for pneumonia may help alleviate symptoms as well.