The term 'walking pneumonia' is not a formal term in the medical mainstream. It is one that is used to refer to a case of pneumonia that is not too severe to warrant bed rest or hospitalization. The patient, in spite of suffering from this condition, is capable to walk and may even work thus, the name 'walking pneumonia'. Kids tend to be more vulnerable to develop this type of pneumonia than adults. Reports say, about 20% of school going children and 50% of college students fall prey to this infection annually. More about this condition has been provided in the following.
Duration of Walking Pneumonia
Given the mildness of the problem, walking pneumonia lasts for a few days; about a week, after the treatment is started. Note that this condition is known to last longer than the average cold or flu. However, if left untreated, the duration may get stretched to as long as a couple of months. But even after the condition resolves, the person may still suffer from a cough that may last for a month or so.
What Indicates Walking Pneumonia?
Fall and winter are most likely seasons when this condition is likely to affect people, mostly school going and college students. The symptoms are known to be less severe than pneumonia itself, but not severe enough for the person to feel miserable. Also, the symptoms tend to develop gradually, with an incubation period of 2 - 3 weeks. Incubation period is defined as the time period between the infection and the occurrence of the first symptoms.
The most common symptoms may include:
- Commonly, a dry cough, but in rare cases, one that produces a small amount of sputum.
- Sore throat, and headache.
- The patient may have a general feeling of being fatigued.
- A fever that may fluctuate from 37.3 °C to 38.3 °C.
- Other symptoms may be a runny nose, accompanied by chills, and sometimes, ear ache.
The Cause and Treatment
The infection is commonly caused by the bacterium Mycoplasma pneumoniae.
Treatment is usually done with antibiotics. The standard names of drugs that are prescribed are as follows:
- Azithromycin (Zithromax)
- Clarithromycin (Biaxin)
- Levofloxacin (Levaquin)
- Moxifloxacin (Avelox)
Preventing the condition from contracting or spreading is easy. All what's needed to be followed is good personal hygiene. Always make a conscious effort to cover your nose and mouth while sneezing, or coughing. Equally important is to wash your hands thoroughly before and after eating. Places where water and hand wash are difficult to access, a sanitizer comes in handy. Avoid crowded places during times when walking pneumonia is most likely to spread, and coming in contact with an ailing person. A healthy diet and regular regimen of exercise helps keep your immune system stronger thus, making you less susceptible to disease-carrying organisms.
To conclude walking pneumonia is contagious. However, the pathogens when spread to others, are less likely to cause the same condition, but other upper respiratory infections. However, people with compromised immune system, may eventually contract this infection.