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Health Information Center

Talking to Your Doctor About Pneumonia

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Talking to Your Doctor About Pneumonia

You have your own health history. Talk with your doctor about your risk factors and background with pneumonia. By talking openly and often with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

Tips for Getting Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write down your questions so do you do not forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for help if you need it.
  • Do not be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information. You have a right to know.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About Pneumonia

  • Do my symptoms point to pneumonia?
  • How might I have gotten this infection?
  • Do my symptoms suggest a specific type of pneumonia?
  • Are you concerned about the oxygen level in my blood?
  • What symptoms might suggest that I have severe pneumonia?
  • What symptoms might suggest that I’m having complications?
  • Can I spread my infection to others?

About Your Risk of Pneumonia

  • Do I have any other health problems that might raise my risk of pneumonia?
  • How can I lower my risk of getting pneumonia?

About Treatment Options

  • Is this bacterial pneumonia? Will it respond to antibiotics?
  • Are there any new treatments for viral pneumonia?
  • What is likely to happen without treatment?
  • What medicines are available to me?
    • What are the benefits and side effects of these medicines?
    • Will these medicines cause problems with the other medicines, over the counter products, or dietary or herbal supplements that I am already taking?
  • Are there any alternative or complimentary therapies that will help me?
  • Are there any supportive care steps that can help?
  • Do I need to be cared for in the hospital?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • Are there any healthy habits I should follow to recover more quickly from pneumonia or to prevent another outbreak?
  • I smoke. What tools or programs can help me quit?
  • Do I need to stop any of my activities?
  • How will I know when I can go back to normal activities?

About Your Outlook

  • How long might this last?
  • Am I likely to have complications?
  • Is this likely to happen again?


  • Community-acquired pneumonia in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/community-acquired-pneumonia-in-adults.
  • Community-acquired pneumonia in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/community-acquired-pneumonia-in-children.
  • COVID-19: How to protect yourself and others. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html.
  • Getting the most out of your doctor appointment. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor.
  • Pneumonia. American Lung Association website. Available at: https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/pneumonia.
  • What is pneumonia? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/pneumonia.


  • David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.