Your healthcare team’s goal during your hospitalization is to treat your pneumonia to the point where you’re strong enough to continue your recovery at home.

Your strength, activity level and overall health will not be 100%, but you should be discharged when your temperature, breathing rate, heart rate, blood pressure readings, and blood oxygen levels all fall within healthy ranges. Your appetite and levels of concentration should also have improved.

But going home does not mean you are completely healed. You won’t be running any marathons any time soon. You’ll still need time to recover at home. Your lung function may not be the same as before your pneumonia.

You may make a full recovery back to what your activity level was before your diagnosis. But for many people whose lungs have been damaged by pneumonia, their activity level might never be the same. Here’s why:

Pneumonia is a serious infection that can damage lung tissue. Your lungs may not be able to expand fully when you breathe, or some lung tissue may be permanently damaged. This can affect the amount of oxygen that enters, and amount of carbon dioxide that leaves your body.

This can leave you feeling tired easily, and sometimes short of breath. Muscle weakness is common after pneumonia; due to lack of activity and possible weight loss. In addition, people who have underlying medical problems, such as lung or heart disease, often experience an increase in their symptoms of those conditions. In these cases you may be prescribed home oxygen as well.

Your doctor will give you instructions to follow to help you recover at home. These may include taking medication, slowly increasing your level of physical activity, and practicing your breathing exercises.

By following these guidelines you can regain your strength, help your lungs function as fully as possible, and help prevent another infection.

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