Discharge Instructions for Pneumonia

You have been diagnosed with pneumonia, a serious lung infection. Most cases of pneumonia are caused by bacteria. Pneumonia most often occurs in older adults, young children, and people with chronic health problems.

Home care

  • Take your medicine exactly as directed. Don’t skip doses. Continue taking your antibiotics as directed until they are all gone—even if you start to feel better. This will prevent the pneumonia from coming back.

  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily, unless directed otherwise. This helps to loosen and thin secretions so that you can cough them up.

  • Use a cool-mist humidifier in your bedroom. Be sure to clean the humidifier daily.

  • Coughing up mucus is normal. Don’t use medicines to suppress your cough unless your cough is dry, painful, or interferes with your sleep. You may use an expectorant if ordered by your doctor.

  • Warm compresses or a heating pad on the lowest setting can be used to relieve chest discomfort. Use several times a day for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. (To prevent injuring your skin, be sure the temperature of the compress or heating pad is warm, not hot.)

  • Get plenty of rest until your fever, shortness of breath, and chest pain go away.

  • Plan to get a flu shot every year.

  • Ask your doctor about pneumonia vaccines.

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.


When to seek medical care

Call 911 right away if you have any of the following:

  • Chest pain

  • Trouble breathing

  • Blue lips or fingernails

Otherwise, call your healthcare provider if you have any of the following:

  • Fever of 100.4°F  (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Yellow, green, bloody, or smelly sputum

  • More than normal mucus production

  • Vomiting