Walking pneumonia is a mild form of pneumonia, so called because the infected individual is usually able to walk around with the disease and may not even be aware he or she has it. It is most often caused by a strain of bacteria called Mycoplasma pneumoniae, or M. pneumonia for short, although it can also be caused by viruses rather than bacteria. Also known as atypical pneumonia because it is different from the more serious, “typical” forms of pneumonia, walking pneumonia generally works its way out of the system in fewer than three or four weeks, producing acute rather than chronic symptoms.
The symptoms of walking pneumonia are similar to those of more serious forms of pneumonia, but with less severity. These include fatigue, cough, fever, chills and/or sweating, chest pain, headache and sore throat. Often the cough is dry, but may produce phlegm as the disease progresses and begins to clear its way out of the body. The symptoms come on more gradually than they do in other forms of pneumonia, sometimes taking up to three weeks to reach their full effect. Because the symptoms are generally not severe, those infected often consider them to be indicative of a simple chest cold or mild flu, and continue their daily routines without disruption.
Walking pneumonia is contagious and therefore is often spread where there are crowds of people, such as at work or school, shopping malls, shelters, public transportation and the like, as well as within homes and between family members. It can be spread via the air when infected individuals sneeze or cough, as well as through kissing and other forms of close contact. Because the symptoms are generally mild and those infected don’t realize they have it, there may be numerous people with the disease in public places at any given time. Widespread outbreaks generally occur every four to eight years, though the reasons for this are not known. Children younger than 5 appear to be less susceptible to this form of pneumonia, as it primarily affects older children, teens, and adults in their 20s and 30s. More males than females are reported to contract the disease.
What is Walking Pneumonia?
Although pneumonia can be a very serious illness, Walking Pneumonia is actually the mildest form that you could suffer from. Most people who contract Walking Pneumonia do not have to be hospitalized and many don’t even know that they have pneumonia at all. Another term for Walking Pneumonia is atypical pneumonia. Pneumonia attacks the lungs and can be caused by many different things, including:
- Inhaled Foods
How is Walking Pneumonia Spread?
Walking Pneumonia can be experienced by anyone of any age. Mycoplasma is a common cause of the illness and usually affects people between their teenage years through age 40.
Walking Pneumonia is highly contagious and spreads rampantly in close quarters. Schools, shelters, and prisons are notorious places to catch Walking Pneumonia. The disease is spread through droplets which mean it is spread through haphazard coughing and sneezing.
Walking Pneumonia is most commonly caught in the summer and fall seasons. The contagious periods of the disease usually run for 10 days and major outbreaks usually happen every four to eight years.
Some people who are feeling ill and have atypical pneumonia do not even know they have it. Many people never feel bad enough to go to the doctor to have any diagnostic testing and may think they are suffering with the flu or allergies. When you do go to the doctor, his testing will depend on your personal history and your symptoms. Often, the doctor will need to know how long your symptoms have persisted, what type of environment you work in, and if you have a history of any illnesses.
At the doctor’s appointment your doctor will want to conduct a physical. He will listen to your chest and your lungs to see if there is any fluid present. He may also, order a chest x-ray and blood work. Different types of blood tests can detect specific markers for Walking Pneumonia. One test is used specifically for mycoplasma infections. Another test detects immune substances that can indicate the presence of Walking Pneumonia.
The ways in which walking pneumonia may be treated depend on whether it’s caused by bacteria or a virus. People infected with the bacteria will respond well to antibiotic treatment such as azithromycin or doxycycline, for durations between three to ten days. If the walking pneumonia is caused by a virus, antibiotics will be ineffective against the disease. In any case, regardless of whether the causal micro-organism is bacterial or viral, walking pneumonia rarely progresses to a more serious form of the disease. Often, additional rest and drinking plenty of fluids are sufficient treatments to allow the body to recuperate more quickly. Even without these treatments, in otherwise healthy individuals the walking pneumonia typically works its way out of the system within four weeks from the initial onset of symptoms. Cough suppressants are not recommended, as they inhibit clearing the lungs of phlegm. Periods of steaming with non-chlorinated water may provide relief and help loosen the mucous in the lungs which can then be more easily coughed up.
If you are interested in helping others treat walking pneumonia, consider a healthcare degree from Sacred Heart University online and get started today.
Supplements and Natural Remedies
Some dietary supplements and natural remedies that may provide especially beneficial in aiding recovery from walking pneumonia include the following:
- Vitamin C
- Green tea, with lemon and/or ginger
- Fish oil
- Daily multivitamin with minerals
Also, infected individuals should reduce their dairy intake, as dairy causes increased mucous production that may thicken the fluids in the lungs.