Home Remedies for Pneumonia

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Pneumonia is a tough illness to endure. Some people are lucky enough to recover from pneumonia within a week, while others will battle pneumonia for a month or longer. Fighting pneumonia can take a lot out of you, especially if your recovery is taking longer. 

While no home treatment will provide a magical overnight cure for pneumonia, there are plenty of ways to help ease the discomfort and potentially speed up the recovery process. One of the most significant factors to consider when caring for pneumonia at home is breaking down mucus. In many ways, coping with mucus production will help you manage your pneumonia overall. 

Sick woman sitting cross-legged on the sofa covered in blanket with a cup of tea. There are crumpled up tissues around her, and laptop on her lap.

Westend61 / Getty Images

Dehydration

One of the most important things you can do to provide relief and recover from pneumonia is staying hydrated.

When you're fighting pneumonia, your body is in desperate need of extra fluids to help with recovery. In fact, it starts secreting a hormone called the antidiuretic hormone. When your body produces this hormone, your body does everything in its power to keep any and all fluid in your body—including reducing your need to urinate.

Your body will take any additional fluid intake and work with it to reduce your mucus's thickness. Thinner mucus will allow you to breathe a little easier and make it easier to cough up the mucus settling in your lungs.

Increasing fluids by only drinking water can backfire. While water is an excellent hydration source in general, your body isn't functioning at 100% when you're sick, so many people will struggle to keep their salt levels high enough, leading to other problems such as pounding headaches or relentless nausea. Increasing fluids should come in many forms to help your body balance itself.

Ways To Combat Dehydration

You can prevent hydration by:

  • Eating (or drinking) something with chicken broth
  • Drinking an electrolyte-enhanced beverage such as Pedialyte or Gatorade
  • Drink warm tea—peppermint tea, in particular, can help remove the mucus in your lungs
  • Use a room humidifier

Cough

One of the more difficult and lingering symptoms of pneumonia is the cough, which is your body's way of getting rid of the sputum in the lungs. Coughing often interrupts your sleep and creates chest pain.

Warning About Cough Medicine

If you've seen your doctor, they've likely recommended a cough medicine to be used while you're sleeping. Even though cough medicine can help minimize the coughing, it's not wise to rely on it full-time.

Some home remedies for alleviating cough include:

  • Gargling saltwater: Many times the mucus sitting in the throat will tickle the throat and cause you to cough more. By gargling warm salt water, this mucus breaks up, slightly helps with dehydration, and may get rid of some germs along the way.
  • Using honey: Sweetening your tea with some honey may not be a bad idea—it may even help your recovery. In fact, adding honey to the peppermint tea recommended above could provide a double whammy. It is believed peppermint can provide pain relief in your throat by numbing nerve endings. At the same time, early research is showing honey has the potential to be a natural antimicrobial treatment. While more research is done on both peppermint and honey, the early results sound promising for those suffering from a cough.

Difficulty Breathing

If a cough or mucus is making it difficult to breathe, you can try one of the below home remedies:

Sleep on Your Stomach

When fighting pneumonia, lying on your stomach can help you breathe a little easier.

The majority of your lungs are on your backside. When you have pneumonia, your lungs are full of fluid. So by laying on your stomach, you allow more space for the air sacs to fill up. Furthermore, you won't have the heart and stomach's weight pushing against your lungs, making the workload a little easier.

Use a Humidifier

Keeping the air moist with a cool-air humidifier helps relieve the irritation in your nose and throat. If your throat and nose are lubricated, you will cough less, which in the end enables you to breathe easier.

Focus On Your Breathing

Being more mindful of your breathing can help. Not sure how to do this? Try this exercise, which can be done by lying down or sitting up:

  1. Start by putting one hand on your chest and the other hand on your stomach. 
  2. Now breathe in and focus on your hands. Which hand is moving? Are they both moving?

When breathing "properly," the hand over your stomach should be moving more than the hand over your chest.

Using your abdomen when you are breathing means the diaphragm is doing its job and taking the workload off your lungs

Breathing in and counting for a few seconds, then out for few seconds while focusing on using your abdomen can help reduce some of your breathing difficulties. This breathing technique can also reduce the anxiety that sometimes comes with difficulty breathing. 

A Word From VeryWell

Pneumonia is a serious condition. If you think you're battling a case of pneumonia, you should see your doctor immediately. While home remedies may provide some relief, they are merely complementary to an official treatment plan.

Your healthcare provider can check for signs of complications, take X-rays to assess the severity of your pneumonia, and schedule a follow-up in a few weeks to make sure you fully heal with no lung damage.

It's also important to keep in mind that mixing certain medications or supplements can create a dangerous reaction. It's best to consult a doctor or pharmacist before combining medications or supplements and creating a potentially life-threatening reaction. 

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