Treating pneumonia: clearing your lungs at home

There are many ways to treat pneumonia, including hospitalization. Fortunately, up to 75 percent of cases can be dealt with at home.

Treating pneumonia: clearing your lungs at home

What you need to know

  • Unless your doctor wants you hospitalized, your best plan is to rest in bed and take your medication, and you'll likely feel better within a few days.
  • For several days or weeks after that, you may still cough and feel more tired than usual, but in most cases your lungs will end up as good as new.
  • Clearing your breathing passages makes it easier to get rid of infected sputum. Here are six ways you can clear your lungs at home.

1. Inhale steam

Loosen mucus by breathing in steam from a pot of hot water for 10 minutes morning and evening. You can add a drop of eucalyptus oil to the water.

2. Use a humidifier

Making the air moist will help thin sputum. Clean the device with bleach every week to keep it free of fungus.

3. Take hot showers

Let the water stream over your face and breathe in the steam.

4. Try postural drainage

Lie with your head below your torso, so that gravity pulls fluids towards your throat.

5. Ask about incentive spirometry

This device has a breathing tube and gauge, which measures air entering and leaving your lungs. Exhale, then inhale as strongly as possible to raise the gauge. This exercises your lungs while it measures how well you're recovering.

6. Try deep or rhythmic breathing

Tap lightly on your chest to loosen mucus, or have someone else tap on your back. Inhale deeply and rhythmically three or four times. Cough deeply to try to produce sputum. To reduce any pain during coughing, hold a pillow tightly against your chest or lie on the side that hurts. Repeat the entire procedure every four hours.

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