Pneumonia is an inflammatory disorder of the lungs due to an infection of the airways. It is a serious condition, and home remedies will not treat or cure it.
However, certain home remedies may help ease the symptoms and enhance healing during the recovery period.
Pneumonia can be life threatening. Medical help is essential, and many people will need to spend time in the hospital. Afterward, it can take several weeks or months to recover.
Although medical treatment is essential, home remedies can help a person manage the symptoms and improve their comfort levels when they are not in the hospital.
Factors that increase the risk of pneumonia include:
- being under 5 or over 65 years of age
- having exposure to tobacco smoke and air pollution
- having asthma
- having a weakened immune system
- having other medical conditions, including COVID-19
In this article, learn more about the causes, symptoms, and home remedies associated with pneumonia and its effects.
Pneumonia can occur for various reasons. For example, it often develops due to another illness or infection, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the flu, or COVID-19.
When a person’s immune system is healthy, their body can often prevent severe infections.
However, if bacteria, fungi, or viruses overwhelm the immune system, a more serious illness can result.
The most common symptoms of pneumonia include:
- a cough
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- a fever
- fatigue and muscle aches
- a headache due to a persistent cough
COVID-19 and pneumonia
The main symptoms of COVID-19 include a persistent dry cough and a fever.
If a person develops severe chest pain or difficulty breathing, a doctor will treat it as pneumonia.
The person may need to spend time in the hospital, using a respirator to help them breathe. Home remedies will not help in this case.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note that most people will experience mild symptoms and should stay at home until they feel better.
However, if a person more severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, it is essential to seek medical attention at once.
Depending on the cause of pneumonia, a doctor will prescribe medication to treat the infection.
During recovery, they will also recommend:
- getting plenty of rest
- eating nutritious foods
- drinking lots of fluids
In addition, some home remedies may help a person manage the symptoms and enhance recovery. The following sections will discuss these in more detail.
If the lungs are producing extra mucus as part of an immune reaction, the body will use a cough to try to expel this fluid from the lungs. For this reason, a doctor may not recommend using a cough suppressant.
However, some natural methods may help reduce the severity of a cough, including:
1. Peppermint, eucalyptus, and fenugreek tea
Many warm herbal teas can help soothe a scratchy throat, but herbs may be more beneficial.
A 2011 study found that herbs, including peppermint and eucalyptus, had a soothing effect on the throats of people with upper respiratory tract infections. These herbs may help break up mucus and ease the pain and inflammation caused by pneumonia.
A review from 2018 notes that fenugreek seeds might help break down mucus. A tea made from ground fenugreek seeds may therefore ease a persistent cough.
Eucalyptus and tea tree oils may also help relieve coughs. People can use these in a diffuser. However, they should try limiting their exposure at first, to ensure that the use of oils does not worsen their symptoms.
2. A saltwater gargle
Mucus in the throat and chest can trigger more coughing and irritation. A warm saltwater gargle may help eliminate mucus or germs in the throat, which may provide some relief.
Shortness of breath is a common symptom of respiratory infections. If a person has difficulty breathing, they need immediate medical attention.
However, if the symptoms are mild, the following tips may help:
4. Warm, damp air
Inhaling warm, damp air may ease breathing and keep the throat from tightening. Breathing in the steam from a shower or breathing over a warm cup of tea may help.
Rest is vital for cellular repair in the body, but it may be especially beneficial for shortness of breath. A person with pneumonia may benefit from keeping physical exertion to a minimum.
Chest discomfort is a common symptom of pneumonia. The following remedies may help ease this symptom:
6. Ginger or turmeric tea
A persistent cough can result in chest pain. Drinking warm tea made with fresh ginger or turmeric root may help reduce this pain.
The roots of both of these plants can have a natural anti-inflammatory effect in the body.
Chop up a thumb sized piece of either root and boil it in a pint or so of water. If a person prefers strong tea, they can boil it for longer or add more of the root. If the flavor is too sharp, they can try adding a spoonful of honey.
A person with pneumonia may also have a fever. As long as the fever is mild, a person may wish to use natural remedies to manage it.
If the fever is high or persistent, however, it is important to seek medical help. It could be a symptom of a severe infection.
The following remedies may help a mild fever:
When a person has a fever, consuming liquids and electrolytes can help prevent dehydration. Drinking cool beverages or eating homemade ice popsicles may help hydrate the body and cool it down.
8. Fenugreek tea
As the 2018 review above notes, making tea from fenugreek seeds may encourage a person to sweat, which could reduce their temperature.
9. Over-the-counter pain relievers
Some over-the-counter drugs, such as ibuprofen (Advil), may help reduce fever and pain. It is important to take these medications with food and not exceed the recommended dosage.
10. A lukewarm bath or compress
Soaking the body in lukewarm water may help cool it down.
If it is not possible to take a bath, apply towels or washcloths to the body after dunking them in lukewarm water and wringing them out. This may help the body cool. When the towels warm up, dip them in the water again and reapply.
Chills are often a secondary symptom of a fever. The following home remedies may help ease chills:
11. Warm liquids
Drinking warm liquids may help warm the body up and prevent chills.
Some examples include:
- warm water
- herbal teas
- a bowl of soup
Avoid sodas and consume either water or liquids that contain nutrients.
Some foods contain compounds may help boost the immune system, fight bacteria, and manage inflammation. These may help ease the symptoms of pneumonia more generally. For example:
12. Additional natural compounds
A number of at-home products contain compounds that may help boost the healing process. Examples include:
- raw honey
- cayenne pepper
- tea tree oil
It is worth noting that none of these substances or remedies will treat or cure pneumonia or any of the diseases linked to it, including COVID-19.
However, as long as the symptoms are mild or the person is recovering, they may help them feel better and contribute to their overall well-being.
Anyone who has difficulty breathing should seek medical help for diagnosis and treatment.
It is essential to follow any medical treatment plan that the doctor recommends and request additional help if the symptoms worsen or do not improve after a few days.
A doctor can also advise on some ways to prevent pneumonia from developing again.
It is not always possible to prevent pneumonia, but some lifestyle choices can reduce the risk of developing it or experiencing severe symptoms.
- adopting a varied and healthful diet
- getting regular exercise
- not smoking
- avoiding air pollution, if possible
- managing stress levels and getting enough sleep
- practicing good hand-washing to reduce the risk of infection
- following any instructions the doctor recommends for staying healthy
In the case of COVID-19, experts advise physical distancing from other people to prevent the spread of the virus.
Healthful lifestyle habits can help strengthen the body to fight off infections, including those that lead to pneumonia.
Pneumonia can be life threatening and usually needs medical treatment.
Many people will need to spend time in the hospital, and it can take months to recover fully.
During the recovery period, some home treatments may help a person feel better and encourage their body to heal.