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What are the Different Types of Pneumonia Medication?

By N. Swensson
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Pneumonia can be a serious illness, and many treatments are available for the symptoms as well as the germs that cause pneumonia. Many types of pneumonia are caused by bacteria and can be treated with antibiotics, and the illness usually responds well to these medicines. Other times, pneumonia can be caused by a viral infection, and an antiviral medicine may be prescribed. Still other cases of pneumonia are caused by fungus and may require treatment with antifungal medication. Sometimes, the only types of pneumonia medication needed are over-the-counter medicines to help treat coughing, fever, and other symptoms associated with the disease.

Antibiotics are the most likely pneumonia medication to be used when the illness is caused by bacteria. Usually, a broad spectrum of medication such as erythromycin or doxycycline is prescribed, which will work on a number of different types of bacteria. If a person's symptoms do not improve with this treatment, a second antibiotic may be given.

Sometimes it is necessary to try a few different medications before an effective one is found, and other times two antibiotics may be taken at the same time. As with all antibiotic pneumonia medication, it is important to take all of it, even if symptoms have improved. Also, do not reuse antibiotics that were prescribed for someone else or for a different illness. Improper use of antibiotics can cause the illness to return and may also encourage the development of resistant strains of bacteria.

Some types of pneumonia are caused by a virus or fungus rather than by bacteria. Since antibiotics are not effective against these infections, doctors often don't prescribe any medication and advise patients to drink plenty of fluids and rest as much as possible. Antiviral or antifungal medications such as fluconazole can sometimes be given for severe cases of the illness.

In addition to antibiotic, antiviral, and antifungal medications, patients can take other types of pneumonia medication to alleviate symptoms and help them to get much needed rest. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help to reduce a fever and minimize body aches and pains. Cough medicines can help to alleviate a severe cough but should not be used to stop it completely, because coughing is the body's way of clearing the lungs. Since a large number of people with pneumonia have trouble breathing due to irritated and inflamed bronchial passages, inhalers or steroids may be prescribed to help open the airways.

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Discussion Comments
By DylanB — On Jan 12, 2013

I always tell my friends if they have symptoms of pneumonia that they should go see what the doctor will give them. I had pneumonia once, and because it was viral, I didn't think that any medicine would help. I was wrong.

Though it didn't cure me, the cough syrup with strong pain killers that he gave me actually let me get some sleep at night. Since rest is so important to someone with pneumonia, this was as good as gold. That stuff knocked me right out and kept me from coughing through the night.

Since I only took it at night, I don't believe that it interfered with my body trying to get rid of the phlegm. Believe me, I coughed up plenty of the stuff while I was awake, probably enough to make up for not coughing all night.

By healthy4life — On Jan 11, 2013

@Kristee – Bronchitis only gives you a low fever or none at all, but with pneumonia, you have a high fever and chills. Also, pneumonia makes your heart speed up.

You're right about the two being similar, though. They both make you cough up colored phlegm, and they both make breathing difficult.

Bronchitis treatment is about the same as pneumonia treatment, too. If it's viral, you just rest and drink water, and if it's bacterial, you get antibiotics.

By Kristee — On Jan 10, 2013

How can I tell whether I have acute bronchitis or pneumonia? The symptoms are so similar, and I know I have one or the other.

By JackWhack — On Jan 09, 2013

I went to the doctor when I had pneumonia symptoms, and he told me that I did indeed have viral pneumonia. He said I should not use any cough suppressant medicine, because it would keep me from coughing up the infected phlegm.

I needed to cough it out of my lungs in order to get better. There was no antiviral treatment he could give me, so coughing and drinking water were two of the only things I could do to speed my recovery.

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