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Walking Pneumonia - Symptoms and Treatment

Pneumonia is an infection that affects the lungs, which, if not treated in time, can prove to be fatal. There are many types of this condition; walking pneumonia, exhibits the mildest symptoms, without the need for hospitalization, in most cases. This article will help you understand the expected symptoms and treatment options that are available.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Jan 13, 2018
Is Walking Pneumonia Contagious?
Yes, it is contagious! Airborne droplets of fluid from the nose and mouth (also known as respiratory secretion) act as the carriers for the microorganisms that cause walking pneumonia. In this manner, this disease can spread from one person to another when the affected person coughs, sneezes, laughs, or talks.

Walking pneumonia is referred to as 'atypical pneumonia' because unlike the serious cases of pneumonia caused by the 'typical bacteria' (Streptococcus pneumoniae), here the infection is caused by the 'atypical bacteria', which generates mild symptoms. These bacteria include - Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Chlamydophila pneumoniae, and Legionella pneumophila. Unlike typical cases of pneumonia, this infection is mild in nature and therefore gives patients the chance to walk around freely without the need to be bedridden or hospitalized - hence, the name 'walking' pneumonia. Alternatively, depending upon the bacteria that has caused the condition, the terms - Mycoplasma pneumonia, Chlamydophila pneumoniae, and Legionella pneumonia are used to address walking pneumonia. Note that atypical pneumonia can also be caused by certain viruses, fungi, and protozoa.
While walking pneumonia can be cured eventually, it can reoccur in the future. The good news is that it won't be as severe as the first time.
Walking pneumonia can affect any person belonging to any age group. However, a majority of cases occur due to the infection caused by the bacterial microorganism Mycoplasma pneumoniae, which affects children and adults below the age of 40.
Signs and Symptoms

Walking pneumonia is considered to be the least serious among the other types of pneumonia. In many cases, it does not show noticeable symptoms and the infection subsides on its own. However, there are cases when the infection grows, making the patient experience the following symptoms.
Lethargy or tiredness
Sudden chills
Persistent runny nose
Sore throat
Pain in the abdominal region, ears, eyes, muscles, and chest.
Violent spasmodic cough with very little or no mucus.
Mild to severe headache accompanied by fever and throat problems, such as rashes in throat.
Shallow or rapid breathing due to fatigue.
Weakness - which will be experienced for some days, even after all the other symptoms have disappeared.
Cold - the severity of which will increase with time since the infection reaches the chest region (this differentiates walking pneumonia from the common cold).
Prominent symptoms take approximately 15-25 days to appear. This period is known as 'incubation period', and it starts with a decrease in energy levels, as a result of which the patient ends up feeling exhausted. Before the incubation period, the infection seldom shows any obvious symptoms. As a result, most of the mild cases go unnoticed.
How is Walking Pneumonia Treated?

Even though most of the cases get cured on their own, you should immediately consult the doctor if any of the symptoms mentioned above are experienced for a considerable amount of time. While walking pneumonia does not make you bedridden, it can be very annoying due to the great deal of discomfort associated with it, and hence opting for its treatment at the earliest is required. It is treated mainly with the help of antibiotics. Based on the patient's physical condition, the doctor will decide the course of treatment that has to be followed. If the patient is still mobile and his/her condition has not worsened, then the doctor is likely to prescribe antibiotics in the form of pills. If the patient's condition further worsens, then the doctor may opt for advanced steps such as the use of intravenous antibiotics.
Some Important Tips

Other than the treatment procedure recommended by the doctor, you can also take some precautionary measures to prevent the infection from aggravating. These tips given below are quite effective when it comes to a speedy recovery from walking pneumonia.
As soon as you notice any of the symptoms, you should consult your doctor for further help. Though the symptoms of this infection are flu-like, medication meant for the treatment of flu won't be effective.
If you are diagnosed, follow the treatment regime prescribed by your doctor strictly. Even though this mild form of pneumonia does not make a patient bedridden, it still can get complicated if not given proper attention.
It can be very effective in controlling the outbreak of this disease if a patient diagnosed with walking pneumonia uses a mask or covers his/her mouth and nose for a few days (especially when he/she is talking to a healthy person) - ideally till the time he/she recovers completely.
You should not turn a blind eye to your doctor's advice, especially in context to your advised dietary habits.
Walking pneumonia can strike at any time of the year, but it is most common in late summer and fall. A person suffering from it should also take some precautions to make sure that he doesn't end up spreading the infection. Simple preventive measures, like exercising regularly, getting proper sleep, and keeping yourself well hydrated can help you keep this lung infection at bay.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.