Walking pneumonia may sound like something out of a zombie horror movie, but it is actually quite common. It is also called mycoplasma pneumonia, and this name refers to the bacterium that causes it. Just like the serious form of pneumonia, walking pneumonia is caused by bacteria that make their way into the lungs. However, mycoplasma pneumonia is caused by a specific type of bacteria, known as mycoplasma. While the condition sounds nearly identical to the serious form of the condition, walking pneumonia symptoms are what makes the ailment unique.
The condition is known as atypical pneumonia because of this difference in symptoms. They are almost always much milder than that of the serious form of pneumonia and can be mistaken for a common cold. Most people continue to go to work or school with walking pneumonia. In fact, it is not uncommon for people to not even know that they have walking pneumonia, because the majority of symptoms are so similar to that of a common and everyday cold (although they do tend to last a bit longer).
The problem with the misidentification of walking pneumonia symptoms has to do with how contagious the illness is. It is easily spread through the fluids in the nose and mouth from person to person and thus in crowded places like some workplaces and schools, not understanding the pneumonia contagious potential of the condition, or knowing that it has been contracted in the first place can lead to many subsequent cases. This is why even though feeling well enough to go to work or school is quite common with the condition, it should be avoided until antibiotics have been given an opportunity to be effective.
Identifying the illness is utmost important to prevent its spread. Walking pneumonia symptoms can vary in children and adults. In children, symptoms can be more flu-like with a low grade fever under 101 degrees and shaking, chills, headaches and a sore throat not being uncommon. Chest and stomach pain may also exist in children suffering from mycoplasma pneumonia symptoms as well, and an overall feeling of illness may be present in addition. Walking pneumonia in children may also lead to vomiting and a loss of appetite in older children and a refusal to feed in infants. A hacking cough may be present and wheezing or breathing difficulty may also present as well. In children, atypical pneumonia symptoms may also be related to where the infection occurs. Breathing issues may be more evident in cases where the infection is near the top or middle of the lungs. Abdominal and stomach discomfort may be more apparent in cases of an infection near the lower part of the lungs.
In adults, tiredness and weakness (even that which may linger after the condition has otherwise subsided) may be one of the most predominant walking pneumonia symptoms. In addition, a cough that does not produce very much mucus at all may be present. A sore throat and headache may occur, but do not always appear. In some cases, symptoms consistent with a mild case of the flu including chills and a fever may occur.
Walking pneumonia is more common in the late summer and fall and there are periods of time when large groups of people are affected. This is because walking pneumonia symptoms often do not appear until 15-25 days following contact with an infected person. Once infected, a person can remain contagious for up to ten days, which can further the extent of the spread. Unlike the more serious form of pneumonia, which can exhibit very serious symptoms like confusion, coughing up blood and intense shaking, the mild nature of the symptoms in atypical pneumonia also contribute to its spreading. Cases of bronchial pneumonia and those that are serious enough in nature to warrant a trip to a health care provider or even the hospital are often rapidly treated because symptoms are bad enough for the affected to know that something is wrong. However, just because a serious case of double pneumonia is not present does not always mean that treatment is not necessary. Antibiotics can shorten the duration of the illness and reduce the contagious period in both children and adults.