In this episode, I discuss some commonly asked questions about pneumonia treatment. Simple episodes of pneumonia normally do not require a lot of treatment and can be safely managed at home. Typically, an antibiotic is prescribed, with or without some other treatments to help manage symptoms.
The antibiotic is the main treatment for the bacterial pneumonia and should be taken as prescribed. Some antibiotics are only taken once daily, while others can be given twice or three times daily. Taking your antibiotic more or less often than prescribed is usually not a good idea. The timing of the antibiotic depends on its pharmacological properties (how long it takes to clear it from your body). Your doctor will generally give you a prescription for the right amount of antibiotic at the right time and only adjust this if you are not really feeling better.
Probiotics (medications to protect your gut flora) are sometimes also given with the antibiotic or recommended by your pharmacist. These are not often required as they are not a guarantee that you will not get digestive side effects from the antibiotic. Some antibiotics are more likely to affect the gut flora than others. I would recommend you talk to your doctor to see if a probiotic would be indicated in your case.
Vitamin supplements are also not necessary for most people who get pneumonia, as long as they have a healthy diet and lifestyle. There is a lot of marketing around supplements, but most people don’t actually need them.
Finally, a chest X-ray is not generally required to check if the pneumonia is gone. If a chest X-ray film is done too early after pneumonia, it will still likely show abnormalities, as it usually takes up to 6 weeks for the images to return to normal. Therefore, in most cases of pneumonia, a follow-up chest x-ray is not immediately requested. Your doctor may however ask you to repeat the X-ray a few months after in case they have any specific concerns.