Walking pneumonia is a form of atypical pneumonia that is not serious enough to render the patient bedridden or to be admitted in the hospital. Walking pneumonia is caused by Mycoplasma pneomoniae, a microscopic organism related to the bacteria family. Also known as mycoplasma pneumonia or atypical pneumonia, the term walking pneumonia describes a mild lung infection brought on by mycoplasma pneumonia.
What distinguishes walking pneumonia from other kinds of pneumonia is that it is much less severe than the regular pneumonia and the infected person does not feel sick enough to be disrupted from normal movements and activities. Often the infection can be cured by the body’s healthy immune system without requiring any treatment.
Still it is certainly advisable to consult a doctor as the symptoms of mycoplasma pneumonia can be quite uncomfortable and the disease should not be taken lightly as it is contagious. Negligence could lead to serious consequences and therefore it should be promptly treated. It must be kept in mind that walking pneumonia is contagious and can easily be transferred in the form of airborne droplets while coughing, sneezing, laughing or even speaking.
Walking pneumonia is very common between the ages of 5 and 15 and accounts for 70% of pneumonias in children aged 9 to 15. The onset of the infection is gradual and the symptoms are so mild and barely noticeable that the child does not feel like staying in bed. A slight fatigue, runny nose, head ache and sore throat are the first signs of mycoplasma pneumonia. Unlike the common cold that subsides within a week, this disease worsens over two weeks with the patient developing a moist cough and hoarseness as the infection settles into the lungs.
Before the development of antibiotics and modern methods of treatment, pneumonia was often a fatal disease. Today, most commonly acquired pneumonias are quite easily treatable. Many of the patients with pneumonia are treated by their own family practitioner and do not need to be hospitalized. This is the normal case with persons having walking pneumonia as they are mobile and active despite being sick.
The term ‘walking pneumonia’ has been coined as it refers to a mild form of pneumonia which allows the patient to ‘walk around’ despite being infected with the disease. The term ‘double pneumonia’ means that the infection has spread to both the lungs but you don’t really need to worry as it certainly does not mean that you are twice as sick. It is quite common for pneumonia to affect both the lungs and can be cured with the correct course of treatment.
Walking pneumonia is also quite common in the teens and is different from the typical pneumonia. Caused by a tiny microorganism called mycoplasma, it can, just like the typical bacterial pneumonia, be quite easily treated with antibiotics. Viral pneumonia cannot be treated with antibiotics and need a different course of treatment.
Mycoplasma, unlike viruses, can reproduce outside of living cells and are the smallest of free living organisms. They thrive as parasites on human, animal and bird hosts. Mycoplasma is often found on mucous membranes and can cause disease in humans.
Walking pneumonia is diagnosed by a thorough physical examination. The doctor will check the patient’s breathing and look out for a characteristic throaty sound which is a strong indication of walking pneumonia. In case the disease is suspected, a chest x ray would be recommended and a blood test or a bacterial culture from the throat or nose would be taken to confirm the diagnosis.
Once diagnosed, the infected person must strictly follow the prescribed medication. After the incubation time of 1 or 2 weeks, the recovery could take another week if the patient is on the correct medication. Traditional pneumonia takes around 4 weeks for complete recovery.
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