Recovering from Pneumonia | What to Expect

woman having trouble breathing 

In childhood, many of us think of pneumonia in the same way we think about the boogie man—that it’s something made up by adults to scare us into doing what we’re told (like wearing mittens and scarves). But unlike the boogie man, pneumonia is very real.  According to the American Thoracic Society, pneumonia is the number one reason for the hospitalization of children in the U.S. and, for adults, it comes second only to childbirth as the most common cause of hospital admissions. 

Even if your pneumonia is not severe enough to require hospitalization, how you spend your pneumonia recovery time can make all the difference when it comes to returning to your normal level of function and wellbeing. Your doctor will, of course, provide you with specific instructions, but here’s a little bit about what you can expect while you’re recovering from pneumonia. 

You may need antibiotics and a nebulizer

Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics and breathing treatments to do at home while you recover from pneumonia. The antibiotics address the bacteria that commonly cause pneumonia, and the nebulizer treatments help open up the airways to make it easier to breathe. Not everyone requires both for their pneumonia recovery, but a doctor will prescribe them when necessary. 

Hydration, rest, and proper nutrition are crucial

Any doctor (or any list of pneumonia recovery tips found online), will emphasize the importance of hydration, rest, and nutrition.  Drinking plenty of fluids, including water, tea, and broth, prevents dehydration and helps to keep your mucous membranes moist. Getting ample sleep and eating at least small amounts of fruits and vegetables will help support your body’s healing process.  

Recovery could take longer than you think

Pneumonia recovery can take weeks to months, depending on the severity.  Infants, children, seniors, and those with impaired immune systems often require more time to achieve full recovery than young healthy adults. One study showed that as many as 90 days after diagnosis, 32% of participants reported that they still had a cough, and 28% reported shortness of breath. 

Complications and relapse are possibilities

Bacteremia, septic shock, lung abscesses, and pleural effusions are all very serious potential complications of untreated pneumonia. This is one reason it’s vitally important to follow your doctor’s instructions for pneumonia recovery. Resuming daily activities too soon can result in a relapse and increase your risk of developing life-threatening complications.  A higher than normal heart rate and excessive breathing could indicate a relapse. Ask your doctor about warning signs to look out for while you recover. 

A skilled nursing facility offers safety and comfort

If you’ve been hospitalized from pneumonia, it’s important to understand that release from the hospital only means you’re no longer in critical condition; it does not mean you have recovered. In fact, as mentioned above, it could be weeks or even months before you regain your strength and feel like yourself again.  Transitioning into a skilled nursing facility between the hospital and home ensures that you get the care you need while you recover in a safe, nurturing environment. 

Pneumonia recovery at Bella Vista

At Bella Vista Health Center in Lemon Grove, we know that pneumonia recovery can be a difficult time, and we’re dedicated to providing high quality medical care in a supportive and healing environment so you can heal and return home in good health.

Our respiratory therapists, physicians, nurses, and other team members will work together to create a comprehensive treatment plan designed to help you regain your strength, breathe more easily, and achieve optimal wellness. In addition to 24/7 skilled nursing care by the compassionate staff at our 5-star facility, you’ll also receive nutritional meals that support your body’s healing process.

Give us a call at (619) 644-1000, and let’s start working together to help you achieve full recovery from pneumonia today.