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What are the Different Types of Pneumonia Medicine?

By L. Whitaker
Updated May 17, 2024
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Types of pneumonia medicine for bacterial pneumonia primarily include a variety of antibiotics. The trade names for these antibiotics include Augmentin™, Zithromax™, Biaxin™, Bactrim™, and Levaquin™, among others. In rare cases, antiviral medication could be used to treat certain types of viral pneumonia.

Pneumonia is a lung infection affecting one or both lungs. Pneumonia can be contracted by aspirating air particles or oral secretions containing certain organisms, particularly when the individual's immune system is in a weakened state. In adults, pneumonia is most commonly caused by a bacterial organism called Streptococcus pneumoniae, whereas infants or small children are more likely to contract viral pneumonia. Before the advent of antibiotic treatment, approximately one third of pneumonia patients died from the infection. Currently, about 95 percent of individuals in the United States are successfully treated for pneumonia, with about 50 percent requiring hospitalization.

In the case of bacterial pneumonia, medical treatment primarily involves the use of antibiotics. The type of antibiotic prescribed will depend on the patient's overall health status and the severity of the infection. The initial attempt at antibiotic treatment typically involves broad-spectrum antibiotics. General categories of antibiotics include macrolides, tetracyclines, fluoroquinolones, cephalosporins, penicillins, and vancomycin. The use of pneumonia medicine for bacterial cases usually results in improvement within several days.

The macrolide antibiotics include azithromycin (trade name Zithromax™ or Zmax™), erythromycin, and clarithromycin (trade name Biaxin™). Levofloxacin (trade name Levaquin™), gemifloxacin, and moxifloxacin (trade name Avelox™) are categorized as fluoroquinolones. The cephalosporins include cefepime, cefotaxime, and ceftriaxone, while the penicillins typically refer to amoxicillin and ampicillin. Vancomycin is also sometimes used as a pneumonia medicine. Doxycycline is one of the tetracyclines. Another option is the use of sulfamethoxazole or trimethoprim (trade name Bactrim™ or Septra™).

When pneumonia is caused by an influenza virus, no pneumonia medicine is available for effective treatment. Infection with varicella pneumonia, which is rare, is generally treated with antiviral medications. A small percentage of pneumonia cases in the United States are caused by fungal infections, such as aspergillosis, coccidiomycosis, histoplasmosis, cryptococcosis, or blastomycosis. These can be treated with certain types of antibiotic pneumonia medicine, including fluconazole (trade name Diflucan), penicillin, amphotericin B, and sulfonamides.

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Discussion Comments
By serenesurface — On Jan 01, 2015

They say that bacterial pneumonia is the worst. That may be true in terms of symptoms, but I think it's not so bad because there are antibiotics to treat it and it works great most of the time. I had pneumonia when I ignored my cold for far too long. The infection got worse, caused inflammation and breathing problems. A nice course of penicillin got rid of it for me. We are lucky that we have this option because pneumonia can be very dangerous otherwise.

Oh and there is also a pneumonia vaccine for young children and the elderly. So it is possible to prevent too.

By burcinc — On Jan 01, 2015

@turquoise-- Well, yes. Normally, antibiotics aren't given for pneumonia caused by viral infections. Viruses don't respond to antibiotics. Antivirals may be used or as you said, the patient may just have to rest it out if it's a mild cause of pneumonia.

I do know however that even non-bacterial causes of pneumonia like viral pneumonia can turn into bacterial pneumonia because the immune system is weakened and the lungs are more prone to infection. If a doctor finds that a bacterial infection is also present, or if he or she thinks that a bacterial infection is very likely for the patient, antibiotics can be given for some non-bacterial pneumonia. And like the article said, some fungal pneumonia are also treated with antibiotics.

I'm guessing that one of these were true in your case. Otherwise, doctors are very cautionary about prescribing antibiotics because they are fully aware of the risks of antibiotic resistance. My doctor doesn't prescribe them unless I absolutely need them.

By turquoise — On Dec 31, 2014

I believe I had viral pneumonia but I was still given antibiotics for treatment. Does anyone know why? Normally nothing is given for viral pneumonia right? Wasn't I just supposed to rest it out?

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