Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
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New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2681
This video will help you understand pneumonia and how to manage your recovery.
Please watch the entire video to learn how to manage pneumonia.
If you have recently been in the hospital with pneumonia,
it’s important to understand how to recover properly when you return home.
Pneumonia is an infection in one or both of your lungs.
The air sacs at the end of your airways become inflamed and fill with fluid, causing you to have difficulty breathing.
Other symptoms of pneumonia include: a cough that may produce thick mucus, shortness of breath,
chest pain when you breathe deeply or cough, fever, sweating or chills,low body temperature in older adults,
muscle aches and fatigue, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, and headache.
It’s important to understand that you will still have symptoms as you recover at home:
Your coughing should slowly improve within one to two weeks.
Your appetite, sleeping habits and energy level may take several weeks before they return to normal.
You will need time off from work and your normal activity schedule to recover properly.
Fortunately, you can help manage your pneumonia by following your healthcare team’s instructions, including:
taking your medications as directed, performing self-care procedures, making some lifestyle changes,
and protecting your lungs from other infections and irritants.
Taking care of yourself means taking your medications exactly as directed by your doctor.
Don’t skip doses. Don’t stop taking your medicine, even if you feel better.
Take note of any side effects and tell your doctor.
Don’t take any over-the-counter medication or supplement, without asking your doctor first.
Keep all follow-up appointments with members of your health care team.
You can help with your recovery from pneumonia by doing some simple procedures at home, such as exercising your lungs.
Throughout your day, take a couple of deep breaths, two or three times an hour.
Deep breaths help to open up your lungs.
Coughing up mucus is normal and helps you clear fluid from your airways,
so only take cough medicine if your doctor says it’s okay.
Protect those around you and have a tissue ready to cover your mouth when you cough.
And if you cough up mucus, don’t swallow it.
Spit into a tissue and dispose of it properly.
Your healthcare team may recommend postural drainage. You can do this by lying with your head lower than your chest.
This position helps drain fluid from your lungs.
Percussion may be prescribed to help you cough up mucus.
To do this, lie with your head lower than your chest and tap your chest firmly with your hand cupped.
Your healthcare team can provide you with specific instructions.
A humidifier or vaporizer may help you to breathe more easily. Moisture from a warm bath can also help.
Changes to your diet can help with your recovery.
Good nutrition helps your body fight infection and recover more quickly.
A balanced diet includes fruit, vegetables, carbohydrates and protein every day.
Drink six to eight cups of water, juice or weak tea a day, unless your doctor has told you otherwise.
Don’t drink alcohol while you are recovering.
Getting enough sleep also helps your body to recover more quickly.
If coughing interrupts your rest at night, take naps during the day.
Protect your lungs from irritants:
Don’t smoke or let others smoke around you. Stay indoors if air pollution is high. Avoid fireplace smoke.
Protect your lungs from additional infections by washing your hands often, with soap and hot water.
Avoid crowds and people with colds or the flu.
Ask your doctor if you should have a flu or pneumonia vaccination.
Call your doctor if you: have more difficulty breathing, are unable to take a deep breath, have chest pain when you breathe,
have a fever that returns, cough up yellow, green, bloody or smelly mucus, experience vomiting,
are excessively sleepy or confused, have impaired thinking, or have blue lips or fingertips.