How Is Walking Pneumonia Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, how long youve had them and if any other family members or people you regularly interact with are also ill with similar symptoms. He or she will listen to your lungs with a stethoscope to check for abnormal breath sounds. Your doctor may order chest X-rays to see if there is an infection in your lungs. Your blood or mucus might be tested to determine if your pneumonia is caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae, another bacteria, virus or fungus.
Causes Of Walking Pneumonia In Adults
- Infection of the lungs by bacteria results in walking pneumonia in adults. When an individual has walking pneumonia, the lungs, its air sacs and other tissues get infected and there is accumulation of mucus, pus and other fluids. This prevents the oxygen from the lungs to read the cells of the body and the bloodstream, which results in the symptoms of walking pneumonia.
- Walking pneumonia is contagious and is spread through contact with the mucus and spit of infected individuals. The infection may spread when adults with walking pneumonia sneeze or cough. Hence, individuals who live in populated areas, shelters, etc. and college students are more at risk in developing walking pneumonia. Also, intimate or increased contact with infected individuals increases the risk.
- Existing conditions like cold or flu may increase the vulnerability of adults to develop walking pneumonia. Such illnesses are common during climate or weather changes.
From Walking Pneumonia To Covid
When youre sick, it can be hard to diagnose yourself: Do you have a cold? The flu? COVID-19? Bronchitis? Or, could it be pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a potentially serious condition: An estimated 1 million adults in the United States seek care in a hospital due to pneumonia every year, and 50,000 die from it.
Pneumonia causes inflammation, fluid or pus to build up in the air sacs of the lungs, which are called alveoli, explains Carrie Ward, MD, a primary care physician at Keck Medicine of USC and a clinical assistant professor of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. The alveoli are responsible for air exchange, and when they fill with fluid or are inflamed, they cant effectively do their job, and the body receives less oxygen.
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What Health Complications Can Pneumonia Lead To
If you have flu-like symptoms that persist or worsen despite treatment, talk to your doctor.
Your doctor can monitor your lungs while you inhale, listening for crackling sounds that are audible only with a stethoscope.
In order to confirm the diagnosis and identify the specific germ causing the illness, you may get a chest X-ray as well as a blood test, depending on your medical history and physical exam, if your doctor suspects that you have pneumonia.
If left untreated, pneumonia can become severe.
People with severe pneumonia experience higher fevers along with GI symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea, as well as:
- Difficulty breathing
How Does The Doctor Know If I Have Walking Pneumonia
Some cases of walking pneumonia are never diagnosed because people don’t seek medical help. If you do go to the doctor, the diagnosis will depend on your medical history and the results of a physical exam. The doctor will start by asking you about your symptoms and how long you have had them. The doctor may also ask you about where you work and whether anyone at home or at work is also sick.
During the physical, the doctor will listen to your chest with a stethoscope. The doctor may also ask for a chest X-ray and a blood test. There is a blood test that can specifically identify a mycoplasma infection. It’s seldom done, though, unless there is a widespread outbreak that’s being studied. Another blood test is used that identifies the increased presence of certain immune substances called cold agglutinins. This test won’t confirm that you have walking pneumonia, but it can suggest it.
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Treatment Of Walking Pneumonia
Walking pneumonia treatment depends on the causative organism, the severity of symptoms, age, and other health factors.
Bacterial pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics. The symptoms may subside within a few days but continue and complete the prescription.
People stop the medications if they feel better this increases the chance of reoccurrence of pneumonia with severity.
Improper medication also results in antibiotic resistance. The cough may take a little longer to subside.
Atypical pneumonia due to viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics doctors will perform a thorough analysis and prescribe medicines for the symptomatic treatment.
OTC medicines relieve aches and pains, fever, and throat. Cough suppressants are also prescribed, but little coughing can help remove them.
Pneumonia Symptoms In Adults
Pneumonia can feel very similar to other respiratory conditions such as the flu or a chest infection. The main symptom is coughing, which may bring up mucus that is green, yellow or bloody. Youll also feel generally unwell and tired.
Additionally, many people experience the following:
- Fever, accompanied by shivering and sweating
- Difficulty breathing and breathlessness even when resting
- Rapid heartbeat
- Chest pain, worsened by breathing or coughing
- Loss of appetite
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Severe Symptoms Of Pneumonia
In more serious cases of pneumonia, you may start to cough up blood, or feel very confused or drowsy. The NHS advises that you call 999 or attend A& E immediately if either of these symptoms develop. Other symptoms requiring emergency care include:
- Struggling to breathe
- Feeling very cold and sweaty, and having blotchy, pale skin
- A blue tinge to your lips or face
- A rash that doesnt fade under a glass
- Suddenly collapsing
- Stopping normal urination
Sometimes severe pneumonia causes complications such as pleurisy. This where the pleura, the thin lining between the lung and ribs, becomes inflamed. This causes a sharp pain in the chest when breathing in and out.
Can I Prevent Pneumonia
The routine vaccinations that most people receive as kids help prevent certain types of pneumonia and other infections. If you have a chronic illness, such as sickle cell disease, you may have received extra vaccinations and disease-preventing antibiotics to help prevent pneumonia and other infections caused by bacteria.
People should get a pneumococcal vaccination if they have diseases that affect their immune system , are 65 years or older, or are in other high-risk groups. Depending on the bugs that are likely to affect them, these people also may get antibiotics to prevent pneumonia, as well as antiviral medicine to prevent or lessen the effects of viral pneumonia.
Doctors recommend that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu shot. That’s because someone with the flu could then come down with pneumonia. Call your doctor’s office or check your local health department to see when these vaccines are available.
Because pneumonia is often caused by germs, a good way to prevent it is to keep your distance from anyone you know who has pneumonia or other respiratory infections. Use separate drinking glasses and eating utensils wash your hands often with warm, soapy water and avoid touching used tissues and paper towels.
You also can stay strong and help avoid some of the illnesses that might lead to pneumonia by eating as healthily as possible, getting a minimum of 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night, and not smoking.
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Pneumonia Isnt Something You Can Diagnose Yourself
Although you may suspect you have pneumonia based on your symptoms, only a doctor can tell for sure.
Ward says that pneumonia is diagnosed with a combination of the following:
- A physical exam, to listen for abnormal sounds in the lungs and to see how the patient is breathing
- Vital signs, to check temperature, heart and respiratory rate, blood pressure and oxygen saturation
- Blood tests, to check for signs of inflammation or blood infection
- Chest X-ray, to look for evidence of infection in the lung tissues
Sometimes, special tests are utilized to examine respiratory secretions to help diagnose certain types of infectious pneumonia, she adds.
How Do You Get Pneumonia
You may get pneumonia:
- After you breathe infected air particles into your lungs.
- After you breathe certain bacteria from your nose and throat into your lungs.
- During or after a viral upper respiratory infection, such as a cold or influenza .
- As a complication of a viral illness, such as measles or chickenpox.
- If you breathe large amounts of food, gastric juices from the stomach, or vomit into the lungs . This can happen when you have had a medical condition that affects your ability to swallow, such as a seizure or a stroke.
A healthy person’s nose and throat often contain bacteria or viruses that cause pneumonia. Pneumonia can develop when these organisms spread to your lungs while your lungs are more likely to be infected. Examples of times when this can happen are during or soon after a cold or if you have a long-term illness, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease .
You can get pneumonia in your daily life, such as at school or work or when you are in a hospital or nursing home . Treatment may differ in healthcare-associated pneumonia, because bacteria causing the infection in hospitals may be different from those causing it in the community. This topic focuses on community-associated pneumonia.
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When To Get A Persistent Cough Checked
If youre struggling with a lingering cough but not sick enough to stay in bed, it may be unclear exactly when to seek help. So, how do you know when to call the doctor?
If symptoms are out of the ordinary for you, if youre getting worse instead of better in that three to five day period, or if they persist, consider that it might be walking pneumonia as opposed to a typical cold, and check in with your doctor.
In order to diagnose walking pneumonia, your doctor will perform a physical exam. A chest x-ray and some additional tests may also be needed.
While its possible for people with walking pneumonia to recover without treatment, many patients with a confirmed Mycoplasma pneumonia infection benefit from antibiotics.
Antibiotics are very effective against walking pneumonia typically a five to seven day course is prescribed. It may take about 10 to 14 days before you actually start feeling back to baseline, but once the walking pneumonia is treated, symptoms should resolve completely.
Keep in mind however, walking pneumonia isnt always mild. Some cases are severe and require hospitalization.
What Makes You More Likely To Have Pneumonia
It is important to talk to your doctor about your risks of developing pneumonia and which vaccines will help protect you from it. Dr. Manuelpillai
Youre most at risk for pneumonia if you:
- Are older than 65 years old or less than 6 months old, but particularly less than 2 months and/or born preterm.
- Close contact with someone who is sick.
- Use tobacco or are exposed to second-hand smoke.
- Use drugs or chronic alcohol use.
- Recently hospitalized.
- Have underlying medical issues, like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , heart disease, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, renal disease, sickle cell disease, asplenia, tuberculosis risk factors, or the flu.
- Are immunocompromised, such as having HIV, receiving chemotherapy or radiation, regularly taking steroids, had a transplant, or have sickle cell disease.
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Causes Of Walking Pneumonia
Walking pneumonia can be caused by viruses or bacteria. According to the American Lung Association, most cases are caused by M. pneumoniae, a common type of bacteria that usually affects children and adults under the age of 40. M. pneumoniae infections tend to peak in summer and early fall but can happen throughout the year.
Chlamydophila pneumoniae can also cause walking pneumonia. Infections from this type of bacteria are common in all four seasons. It often spreads in crowded environments, like college dorms and long-term care facilities.
Adults and children can also contract walking pneumonia from viruses. Respiratory syncytial virus is a frequent cause of walking pneumonia in young kids, while adults tend to get the viral form of the disease from the influenza virus.
Who Gets Walking Pneumonia
As we discussed earlier, walking pneumonia is common in people who are routinely exposed to crowded places. Similarly, children who are in their school-going age and adults, younger than 40 years of age, are generally most likely to suffer from walking pneumonia. However, this doesnt mean that people belong to other age groups and social environment cannot get walking pneumonia.
It is also worth mentioning that to catch walking pneumonia, one generally needs to be exposed to the M. pneumoniae multiple times. Often, it is observed that the cases of pneumonia peak during late summer or fall seasons however you can contract walking pneumonia pathogen anytime during the year.
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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.
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 102°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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How To Treat Pneumonia In Seniors
Pneumonia can often be treated at home. The goal is to rid your body of the infection while preventing more serious complications. Pneumonia affects the lungs and breathing. This makes it vital to ensure that the body is getting the oxygen it needs to recover. Following these steps can help to manage the symptoms of fever and cough so that your loved one can recover more quickly:
Recovery from pneumonia can take anywhere from a week to months. You will need to talk to your doctor about when it is appropriate to return to a normal routine.
An early response to the signs of pneumonia can be your best strategy for a smooth recovery.
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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What Are The Symptoms Of Walking Pneumonia
Symptoms from walking pneumonia are usually pretty mild. In fact, most people have so few symptoms that they dont ever see a healthcare provider. This may mean that theyre never diagnosed with walking pneumonia at all.
Typically, people with walking pneumonia start off having symptoms very similar to a common cold or viral upper respiratory tract infection. These symptoms include:
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.
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