The term "walking pneumonia" is frequently used to describe pneumonia that isn't severe enough to require bed rest or hospitalization. Just about anybody can acquire this condition. Walking pneumonia in itself is not dangerous; however, in case of a person with a compromised immune system, it can prove to be fatal.
What Indicates Walking Pneumonia?
Walking pneumonia, in its early stages, is asymptomatic; i.e. no visible symptoms are observed in the patient. However, the following symptoms may become evident in due course of time:
- Muscle aches
- Severe pain in ears, eye, muscles, and chest and abdominal area
- Sore throat developed by constant cough
- Lethargy, sluggishness or reduction in energy levels.
- Occurrence of sudden chills
- Runny nose
- Cold (As the severity of cold increases, the pneumonia reaches the patient's chest)
- Patient may have mild to severe headache, along with fever and throat problems
- Patient may experience low and rapid breathing at times
The symptoms intensify over a period of two weeks until the illness affects the lungs. Good personal hygiene is the best way to prevent spreading of the bacteria as well as acquiring the disease. Currently, there is no effective vaccine for the prevention of walking pneumonia.
A chest x-ray is essential to rule out the possibility of bronchitis (since symptoms of bronchitis overlap with those of walking pneumonia). Some physician may also advice to get a throat swab done, or even a urine test. Although these suffice to detect a case of walking pneumonia, followings additional tests maybe required to be carried out, depending on severity of the disease.
- Blood test - including total blood count (to determine number of blood cells, red as well as white) as well as blood culture (to determine and identify causative bacterium).
- Sputum culture
- Chest CT scan
- Bronchoscopy - though not carried out regularly, it may be required as a diagnostic test in severe cases of walking pneumonia
Treatment mode and methods largely depend on the severity of the infection. In milder cases, the doctor may prescribe some drugs and send you home. You may well be up and about within a week's time. Usually the doctor will prescribe aspirin or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to take care of fever. The antibiotics course usually lasts up to two weeks. Apart from that it is advised to take ample rest. So call on your family to help you get the household chores done.
Antibiotics that are generally prescribed for walking pneumonia include:
Walking pneumonia, though a milder form of pneumonia, can still prove to be fatal. The best approach when it comes to diseases is - Prevention is Better Than Cure. Good personal hygiene practices will help you keep almost any disease at bay. Wash your hands with soap and rinse thoroughly with water to keep germs away. Also ask your doctor about flu shots and get one every year. Take care, and stay safe.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.