Skip to main content

Can pneumonia go away on its own?

Medically reviewed by Sally Chao, MD. Last updated on Sep 26, 2023.

Official answer


Yes, pneumonia can go away on its own, but only when it is considered mild.

Walking pneumonia refers to a case of pneumonia that is so mild that you can go about day-to-day activities throughout the course of the illness. It can feel like a very bad cold and may go away with self-care, but your doctor can help you decide if you need additional treatment.

Pneumonia is a lung infection that occurs when the air sacs (alveoli) in your lungs become inflamed. Symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough (that produces phlegm or mucus)
  • Difficulty breathing and/or chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Confusion.

Pneumonia can be caused by a bacteria, virus or fungi. For some people, it can take up to a month to recover from pneumonia, while others rebound much faster, sometimes within 3 to 5 days. The cough, however, can last for weeks or months even after treatment. A lot of this depends on the cause and severity of the pneumonia, along with your general health status and age.

Viral pneumonia is often treated with rest and over-the-counter medications. Sometimes an antiviral medication is needed.

Bacterial pneumonia requires a course of antibiotics.

In general, managing symptoms is key for all types of pneumonia. This includes:

  • Taking medication to reduce fever
  • Staying hydrated to break up phlegm
  • Drinking warm beverages or using a humidifier to help open airways and ease breathing.

Severe cases of pneumonia may require hospitalization, intravenous fluids, antibiotics and oxygen therapy.

  1. American Lung Association. What Is Walking Pneumonia? February 22, 2017. Available at: [Accessed September 6, 2021].
  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine MedlinePlus. Pneumonia. August 24, 2021. Available at: [Accessed September 6, 2021].
  3. American Lung Association. Pneumonia Treatment and Recovery. August 16, 2021. Available at: [Accessed September 6, 2021].

Read next

Related medical questions

Related support groups