Causes And Risk Factors For Walking Pneumonia
Walking pneumonia is often described as atypical since it doesnt resemble regular pneumonia. Walking pneumonia is different because:
- The infection sometimes doesnt even affect the lungs
- The bacteria that causes it often doesnt respond to typical antibiotics
This was so unusual that scientists thought that its not even caused by a bacteria for a while, but by other microbes. Today we know that, unlike viral pneumonia, bacteria are indeed to blame for walking pneumonia.
Several bacteria can cause walking pneumonia, including the following:
- Mycoplasma pneumoniae, which causes the majority of infections. AllMycoplasma bacteria are very small and dont have a cell wall. Their proteins can trigger a strong autoimmune response that can spread to various organs in the body .
- Chlamydophila pneumoniae is much less dangerous and causes mild symptoms. But if left untreated, it can lead to heart and blood vessel diseases .
- Legionella pneumophila causes serious symptoms. Luckily, it is less frequent than the previous two. If it progresses, the disease is no longer walking but becomes a severe form of pneumonia called Legionnaires disease .
All three types are contagious and can spread, especially in closed communities and households. Children, the elderly, people with a history of lung problems, or those with poor immunity are at the highest risk .
Walking Pneumonia Recovery Time
Walking pneumonia is often caused by a type of bacterium that produces milder symptoms that come on more gradually than do those of other types of pneumonia. The illness often is brought home by young children who contract it at school. Family members of infected children typically begin having symptoms two or three weeks later. This kind of pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics. Recovery time is usually 5-10 days, but maybe longer.
Over the past decade, some strains of mycoplasma have become resistant to macrolides due to the widespread use of azithromycin to treat infections. People with Legionnaires disease often require hospitalization, and complete recovery may take up to 4 months. During recovery, the doctor will advise you to take your medication, rest, drink clear fluids, and eat healthily.
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Types Of Walking Pneumonia
Walking pneumonia is one of more than 30 different types of pneumonia. It can be divided into a few different subtypes, including:
This type of pneumonia tends to be mild, and most people recover without treatment. Its caused by the bacterium Mycoplasma pneumoniae . The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are about of M. pneumoniae infections each year in the United States.
This type of walking pneumonia is caused by Chlamydia pneumoniae bacteria. While it can cause a serious infection, most people experience only mild illness or no symptoms whatsoever. Its common among school-age children and young adults.
Legionnaires disease is one of the most serious types of walking pneumonia, as it can lead to both respiratory failure and death. Its caused by Legionella, a type of bacteria found in freshwater that can contaminate water systems in buildings. People can get this disease if they inhale airborne droplets of water that contain the bacteria.
Walking pneumonia symptoms are typically mild and look like the common cold. People may start noticing signs of walking pneumonia between 1 and 4 weeks of being exposed to the pathogen that caused the disease.
Symptoms of walking pneumonia can include:
- loss of appetite
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You Should Call Your Doctor If You Have These Symptoms
It may be hard to tell if you have pneumonia just from how you feel, but there are things to look out for.
According to Ward, symptoms of pneumonia include:
- Cough, which can include mucus or phlegm
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain, especially when breathing or coughing
To monitor your symptoms, I recommend keeping a working thermometer and a blood oxygen reader, called a pulse oximeter, at home, she says.
If you have any of the following symptoms, Ward recommends seeking medical attention:
- A fever above 102Â°F, even after taking fever-lowering medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen
- Blood oxygen level lower than 95%
- Coughing up blood or sputum that contains blood
She adds that people whose immune systems are compromised should contact their doctor if they think they are having pneumonia symptoms.
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What Other Treatments May Be Recommended
Additional treatments that may be used for pneumonia include:
- Fluids. Its important to make sure that you have adequate fluid intake when youre sick with pneumonia. If youre hospitalized, you may receive fluids by IV.
- Oxygen therapy. If youre hospitalized with pneumonia, oxygen therapy may be used to make sure that youre receiving enough oxygen.
- Rest. Getting plenty of rest can help your body respond to the infection. If you must perform daily activities, try not to overdo it and dont hesitate to ask for help, if necessary.
- Use heat and humidity. Drinking warm beverages or broths and using a humidifier may help to loosen mucus in your throat and chest.
- Over-the-counter medications. These can help ease symptoms like fever and discomfort. Examples include things like acetaminophen , ibuprofen , and naproxen .
with an increased risk of hospitalization and mortality when compared to other age groups. Symptoms can also be atypical and can quickly worsen.
Because of this, seeking prompt medical attention is essential in promoting a positive outlook.
The recovery period for pneumonia can vary based on the severity of your illness. Its possible that your symptoms may get better after a period of days or weeks.
However, in some people, the recovery period may be longer.
In order to improve outcome, its important that older adults whove had pneumonia pay close attention to the following during their recovery period:
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How Can I Prevent Pneumonia
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccination for:
Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccination for:
If you have been experiencing pneumonia symptoms, make an appointmentwith your provider today. Prompt treatment of pneumonia isimportant for recovery. Requestan appointment with a family medicine provider to receive your flu andpneumococcal vaccinations.
Facts About Mycoplasma Pneumoniae
About 2 million Mycoplasma pneumoniae infections occur each year in the U.S. About 5 to 10 percent of those infections turn into pneumonia. As many as 100,000 people each year are hospitalized because of it. Mycoplasma pneumoniae bacteria can also cause bronchitis and a number of upper respiratory tract infections.
Mycoplasma pneumoniae is quite contagious. It can spread between people through bodily fluids, including phlegm that is coughed up. It can also spread through airborne droplets from sneezing and coughing. It is most easily spread among people who are in close contact with one another. This includes those living within households, military barracks, camps, and college dorms. Mycoplasma pneumoniae infections can spread through whole communities as well.
Mycoplasma pneumoniae is extremely common in school-aged children. It’s the most common cause of pneumonia in this age group. But these infections are rare in children younger than 5 years old.
Although Mycoplasma pneumoniae infections can occur at any time of year, they are most common in the late summer and fall.
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When Should I See My Doctor
Pneumonia can be life-threatening if left untreated, especially for certain at-risk people. You should call your doctor if you have a cough that wont go away, shortness of breath, chest pain, or a fever. You should also call your doctor if you suddenly begin to feel worse after having a cold or the flu.
What Other Problems Can Pneumonia Cause
Sometimes pneumonia can cause serious complications such as:
- Bacteremia, which happens when the bacteria move into the bloodstream. It is serious and can lead to .
- Lung abscesses, which are collections of pus in cavities of the lungs
- Pleural disorders, which are conditions that affect the pleura. The pleura is the tissue that covers the outside of the lungs and lines the inside of your chest cavity.
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What Are Walking Pneumonia Symptoms
Whether your idea of a great afternoon is tossing tennis balls for a dog to fetch, strolling along the lakeside to watch the birds, hitting the shops, visiting with friends or family, or embarking on some other adventure, being proactive about your health is vital. Walking pneumonia can strike at any time, so learning about this disease, its symptoms, how its treated, and how to protect yourself is smart.
When Should You Call Your Doctor
The faster you get treatment, the faster you will get over pneumonia. This is especially true for the very young, for people older than 65, and for anyone with other long-lasting health problems, such as asthma.
911 or other emergency services immediately if you:
- Have chest pain that is crushing or squeezing, is increasing in intensity, or occurs with any other symptoms of a heart attack.
- Have such bad trouble breathing that you are worried you will not have the strength or ability to keep breathing.
- Cough up large amounts of blood.
- Feel that you may faint when you sit up or stand.
if you have:
- A cough that produces blood-tinged or rust-coloured mucus from the lungs.
- A fever with shaking chills.
- Difficult, shallow, fast breathing with shortness of breath or wheezing.
- Frequently brings up yellow or green mucus from the lungs and lasts longer than 2 days. Do not confuse mucus from your lungs with mucus running down the back of your throat from your nasal passages . Post-nasal drainage is not a worry.
- Occurs with a fever of 38.3Â°C or higher and brings up yellow or green mucus from the lungs .
- Causes you to vomit a lot.
- Continues longer than 4 weeks.
Also call your doctor if you have new chest pain that gets worse with deep breathing and if you have other symptoms of pneumonia, such as shortness of breath, cough, and fever.
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It Might Feel Like A Cold
Walking pneumonia is how some people describe a mild case of pneumonia. Your doctor might call it âatypical pneumoniaâ because itâs not like more serious cases.
A lung infection is often to blame. Lots of things can cause it, including:
- Inhaled food
Walking pneumonia usually is due to bacteria called Mycoplasma pneumoniae.
You probably wonât have to stay in bed or in the hospital. You might even feel good enough go to work and keep up your routine, just as you might with a cold.
Crowded Indoor Conditions Increase Your Risk
Generally speaking, young children and teens are at greatest risk for walking pneumonia but anyone could be affected, particularly if they live or work in crowded settings, such as schools, college dorms, military barracks and nursing homes.
Walking pneumonia is spread by droplet particles usually within a few feet of an individual when they cough.
Those recovering from a recent respiratory illness, or those who have a weakened immune system, may also have an increased risk for walking pneumonia. Specifically, any patient that has an underlying lung disease, like asthma, emphysema or COPD and the elderly are at a higher risk for any type of infection, especially pneumonia.
These higher-risk patients are also more likely to have a more severe case of walking pneumonia, which can lead to complications, such as serious pneumonia, asthma attacks, swelling of the brain, kidney problems and certain skin conditions.
Is There A Vaccine For Pneumonia
There isnt a vaccine for all types of pneumonia, but 2 vaccines are available. These help prevent pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria. The first is recommended for all children younger than 5 years of age. The second is recommended for anyone age 2 or older who is at increased risk for pneumonia. Getting the pneumonia vaccine is especially important if you:
- Are 65 years of age or older.
- Have certain chronic conditions, such as asthma, lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, sickle cell disease, or cirrhosis.
- Have a weakened immune system because of HIV/AIDS, kidney failure, a damaged or removed spleen, a recent organ transplant, or receiving chemotherapy.
- Have cochlear implants .
The pneumococcal vaccines cant prevent all cases of pneumonia. But they can make it less likely that people who are at risk will experience the severe, and possibly life-threatening, complications of pneumonia.
Diagnosis Of Walking Pneumonia
This might come as a surprise to you that more often than not walking pneumonia goes undiagnosed and untreated. As the symptoms experienced are so mild in nature, one cant usually tell if they suffer from a condition which requires a visit to the doctor.
You can casually walk in and out of a walking pneumonia this easily. But, this doesnt mean that you should ignore any symptoms as trivial and decide to not pay a visit to your doctor. That would just be wrong, you shouldnt be doing it.
Once you begin to notice the symptoms of walking pneumonia, you have met with your doctor to be certain about the nature of your disease. It is quite possible that, your symptoms may deceive you into thinking that it is walking pneumonia, while in reality it is a severe form of pneumonia or some other condition, you werent considering initially.
As you visit your doctor, to give you an accurate diagnosis, your doctor will perform a physical examination on you and take your medical history. Dont hide anything from them. I repeat. DO NOT
Initially, the doctor will examine your chest, breathing rate and observe you for the presence of congestion or wheezing with a stethoscope. Following this chest examination, if your doctor identifies a problem, he will take a chest X-ray which will further make a pneumonia diagnosis easier.
At other times, your doctor may run a culture test on the mucus sample taken from the nose or throat, that can further help confirm a diagnosis.
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Pneumonia Can Be Serious But Not Always
A case of pneumonia doesnt necessarily require a hospital stay: If you are diagnosed with pneumonia but your symptoms arent severe, your doctor may direct you to manage it at home.
COVID-19 aside, bacterial pneumonia can be more serious than viral pneumonia unless you have a case of pneumonia caused by the bacteria Mycoplasma pneumoniae, often referred to as walking pneumonia, the non-medical term for atypical pneumonia. Although its often mild, atypical pneumonia can still make you feel pretty bad and can also be spread to others.
What Are The Symptoms Of Pneumonia
Pneumonia symptoms can vary from so mild you barely notice them, to so severe that hospitalization is required. How your body responds to pneumonia depends on the type germ causing the infection, your age and your overall health.
The signs and symptoms of pneumonia may include:
- Cough, which may produce greenish, yellow or even bloody mucus
- Fever, sweating and shaking chills
- Sharp or stabbing chest pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply or cough
- Loss of appetite, low energy, and fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting, especially in small children
- Confusion, especially in older people
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Could Your Persistent Cough Be Walking Pneumonia
You might expect that if you had pneumonia, youd know it. Its reasonable to assume that a severe lung infection would likely stop you in your tracks and cause hard-to-miss symptoms like a wet cough, difficulty breathing, fever and chills.
But if you have some minor cold-like symptoms, such as a low-grade fever, along with a persistent dry, hacking cough that just wont quit, you could actually have a form of the infection called atypical or walking pneumonia that can be mild.
Walking pneumonia can last longer, and you may not feel as sick, as its symptoms are less pronounced. People who have walking pneumonia may think they have a common cold.
What Is Viral Pneumonia
Viruses are responsible for about one-third of all pneumonias, and theyre the most common cause of pneumonia in children younger than age 5.
Viral pneumonias tend to clear up in about one to three weeks, but they can increase your risk for bacterial pneumonia.
Viral pneumonia is usually less serious than bacterial pneumonia.
At first, the symptoms of viral pneumonia may be similar to symptoms often associated with the flu, except you may experience a dry cough that does not produce phlegm. You may also develop a fever and headache.
But within a couple of days, these symptoms typically get worse.
Adults with viral pneumonia can also expect to develop:
- Sore throat
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle pain
The flu virus is the most common cause of viral pneumonia in adults, which tends to be more serious in people with heart or lung disease, senior citizens, and pregnant women.
Respiratory syncytial virus pneumonia is usually a mild infection that clears up in about a week or two. It can be more severe and is more common in young children and older adults. In fact, RSV is the most common cause of pneumonia in children younger than 12 months.
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