The name walking pneumonia refers to a type of lung infection that comes on gradually. An infectious organism called mycoplasma pneumoniae usually causes it. Unlike other forms of pneumonia, walking pneumonia symptoms are milder, especially at infection onset. People usually don’t need immediate bed rest and may inadvertently pass the infection to others because they’re still up and around. As the condition worsens, about two to three weeks after infection occurs, more symptoms become present.
At first walking pneumonia may be indistinct from colds or respiratory viruses. Some people have congested noses, headache, and may feel tired. Sore throat may follow or may be present at onset and many people have mild fevers. One of the big differences between walking pneumonia and the standard cold is that colds typically improve in two weeks. Symptoms usually get worse after two weeks and a person may have a strong wet cough or a dry cough. Sleeping becomes challenging because cough can be worse at night.
Children may have a few symptoms that are different than those expressed by adults. Some kids have a skin rash and may have diarrhea, nausea or vomiting. A few children may show signs that they are having difficulty breathing and some kids and adults get chills or have swollen glands. Regardless of the general mild nature of walking pneumonia, difficulty breathing should be treated as an emergency.
Both adults and kids may have complications of walking pneumonia. Some people develop ear or sinus infections. Another common complication is bronchitis. Young children with this condition may be especially vulnerable to croup.
When untreated, walking pneumonia symptoms continue and will create a dry cough. Some people are able to recover without treatment, but the condition can worsen. Usually, if you note signs of walking pneumonia like cough, fatigue, fever and headache, you should see your doctor. Most cases are easily treated with certain forms of antibiotics and can make recovery much quicker. Follow doctor’s advice on use of other medications, like cough medicine, to treat some symptoms.
Some respiratory viruses tend to occur during certain seasons of the year. Walking pneumonia can occur any time during the year. The condition can easily affect a whole population living together or groups of people that interact closely on a regular basis. Outbreaks of this illness can occur at summer camps and kids in schools may easily pass this condition to each other.
Another definition of walking pneumonia can confuse people. Sometimes when people have pneumonia of viral origin, it is also referred to as “walking.” Unlike bacterial pneumonia, viral pneumonia isn’t treated with antibiotics.