Walking Pneumonia

Walking pneumonia, also called atypical pneumonia or mycoplasma pneumonia, is a type of pneumonia caused by certain types of bacteria.

Causes And At Risk Groups

Walking pneumonia is commonly caused by the legionella pneumophila, mycoplasma pneumoniae, or chlamydophila pneumoniae bacteria. Legionella walking pneumonia only accounts for around 6% of pneumonias. Those with chronic illnesses, a weakened immune system, smokers, and older adults are at the highest risk. On the other hand, mycoplasma walking pneumonia primarily affects younger patients, but is also associated with certain neurological conditions, rashes, and anemia. Chlamydia related walking pneumonia accounts for around 15% of all types of pneumonia. It is a form of walking pneumonia that can occur year-round.

Symptoms

Do you know pneumonia is contagious or not and what the symptoms are. The symptoms in walking pneumonia are generally milder than other types pneumonia and do not typically have the rapid onset that many other types of pneumonia are associated with. However, even symptoms of walking pneumonia can be severe. General symptoms might include:

Shortness of breath
Rapid breathing
Chills
Diarrhea
Fever
Confusion
General feeling of being ill
Cough
Headache
Appetite loss
Muscle stiffness and aching
Rash

Testing And Diagnosis

It can often be difficult to distinguish walking pneumonia from other respiratory illnesses, such as bronchitis, with a physical exam alone. If the doctor suspects walking pneumonia, a chest X-ray is usually the first diagnostic test. In severe cases of walking pneumonia, a complete blood count, blood culture and sensitivity, bronchoscopy, urinalysis, and sputum culture might be ordered.

Treatment

Mild cases of walking pneumonia are treated with oral antibiotics at home. In severe cases of walking pneumonia, the doctor might admit the patient a hospital for intravenous antibiotic therapy and oxygen administration. Common antibiotics include:

Tetracycline
Fluoroquinolones
Erythromycin
Azithromycin
Clarithromycin

Prevention

Walking pneumonia does not have a vaccine. Aside from infection control methods, such as proper hand washing and covering the face when sneezing or coughing, there are not any effective measures for prevention.

Prognosis

Antibiotic therapy is usually an effective treatment for all forms of walking pneumonia. There is a slight chance that the infection will return if antibiotics are used less than 2 weeks for patients with walking pneumonia due to mycoplasma or chlamydophila. Walking pneumonia due to Legionella can occasionally be severe, especially in patients that are elderly or have already weakened immune systems. Lung failure can be a complication of walking pneumonia. Hemolytic anemia can also be a complication, especially in patients with mycoplasma type of walking pneumonia.

If you develop any of the above symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately.

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