How is Inflammation of the Lungs Treated?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 03 April 2020
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Doctors treat inflammation of the lungs with a variety of medications, along with measures like rest and drainage, if the lungs fill with fluid as a result of the ongoing irritation. Patients can experience inflammation in the lungs and airways in association with underlying disease like infection. It is important to receive treatment, because lung damage can occur and it may put a person at increased risk of serious illness in the future. Care can often take place at home, although in severe cases, patients will need to stay in a hospital.

Inflammation of the lungs occurs when the immune system responds to a threat like an infection, irritation by pollutants, or injury. A series of chemical reactions floods the area with immune cells. The lungs start to swell and fluid builds up. Patients may experience pain and tightness, and can have difficulty breathing. Crackling, wet sounds in the lungs are audible when a doctor performs an examination, and patients may have other symptoms associated with the cause.

Medications for inflammation of the lungs often start with anti-inflammatory drugs. These will suppress the inflammation, making the patient more comfortable. The doctor may also prescribe antibiotic, antifungal, or antiviral medication to treat an underlying infection. While in treatment, the patient needs to receive adequate hydration and a good diet to stay healthy. Sometimes, using a steam tent or vaporizer can help patients breathe more easily by increasing humidity.


In some cases, the bronchial passages narrow and close as a result of inflammation of the lungs. A doctor may prescribe a medication inhaler for the patient to use to open the airways. The patient can use a rescue inhaler as needed in crisis, as well as another inhaler to suppress inflammation and maintain airway health. Resting is also part of the treatment, as heavy activity can make it harder for patients to heal. The doctor may also recommend the use of expectorant drugs so patients can bring up fluid more easily when they cough.

Sometimes, inflammation of the lungs leads to a buildup of fluid in or around the lungs. Patients can drown on their own secretions or develop lung collapse, two very dangerous complications. If this situation occurs, a doctor may need to perform a procedure to drain the lungs so the patient will be more comfortable. The patient may need to stay in a hospital for monitoring. Nurses will check the patient to see if the lungs are filling again and to provide supportive care.


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