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.