Generally speaking, walking pneumonia is a milder or weaker type of pneumonia which may not have any significant effects on the daily routine of an individual. Patients with walking pneumonia may not require any day offs from their work or school activities.
According to a doctor from the American Lung Association, having walking pneumonia means that a patient is not extremely or too sick and while the bouts of coughing may last for around six (6) weeks, patients with walking or mild pneumonia can still report for work, attend school activities and basically do what they have to do on a routine basis.
What Makes Walking Pneumonia Different?
Most people with walking or mild pneumonia may not even see themselves as being seriously sick. They may realize they are afflicted with some form of illness at some point, but they might simply attribute it to something less serious like flu or colds and not to something that sounds as serious as pneumonia. The symptoms can be so mild that people may associate walking pneumonia with that of other conditions of the respiratory system such as the common cold, a bout of flu or bronchitis. Walking pneumonia is sometimes also called mycoplasma pneumonia or atypical pneumonia.
Walking pneumonia, however, has some specific symptoms and characteristics that can help separate and identify it from its much harsher and serious counterpart which is actual and full blown pneumonia. Early fall and late summer are usually the seasonal periods when walking pneumonia become prevalent. Compared to other respiratory illnesses that usually afflict individuals during the winter time when people tend to stay indoors and stay in close proximity to each other. Walking pneumonia will also usually afflict young children who may then take it home with them, thereby infecting their parents and family as well. The usual suspect for Walking pneumonia is called Mycoplasma pneumoniae, a diminutive bacteria that can symptoms that are less severe compared to full blown pneumonia.
Signs and Symptoms of Walking Pneumonia
As stated earlier in the article, walking pneumonia has slightly different presentations and symptoms as its full-blown pneumonia counterpart. Listed below are some of the symptoms and signs of walking pneumonia and what to look out for to get the appropriate medical attention needed, viz:
Coughing up sputum or a mixture of saliva and mucus can be a sign of pneumonia- Coughing up some amount of sputum or a combination of saliva and mucus can be a clear indicator that the patient may have some form of pneumonia. Usually, the cough will yield sputum or phlegm that is colored either brown, green, yellow or even bloody. This may not be a conclusive indicator though as it can also indicate other medical conditions other than pneumonia. In addition, the said cough may last for a couple of weeks even after the pneumonia-causing infection has passed.
Fever that is more than 100 to 101 degrees may indicate pneumonia- In addition to coughing, experiencing fever that is more than 100 to 101 degrees may point to an individual having some form of pneumonia. Similar to coughing, however, fever may not be conclusive on its own as other medical conditions or illnesses such as flu and common cold may also present fever as a symptom.
Other physical manifestations in the respiratory region can be a sign of pneumonia- There are other physical manifestations or signs of pneumonia that people need to look out for. These include headaches, loss of appetite, sore throat, fatigue, pain when coughing or deeply inhaling and shortness of breath. This is most probably caused by the infection of the individual’s lungs that can no longer be ignored by the body.
After Identifying the Symptoms, What’s Next?
Walking pneumonia signs and symptoms will normally manifest themselves within one (1) to four (4) weeks after the date of infection and the same symptoms will last for around a week or more. Most patients will usually have walking pneumonia that will resolve or get better on its own without any need for further medical assistance. The uncomfortable cycle of coughing and fatigue, though, may prompt patients to seek a medical professional or doctor and once they do, their doctors will try to check their symptoms and verify if it is indeed walking pneumonia or some other medical condition. This will entail a series of tests such as the conduct of chest x-rays and physical exams.
Once the doctor determines that the patient does indeed have walking pneumonia, he or she may prescribe the use of antibiotics to fight against infection. Nasal congestion will usually be addressed by the doctor through the prescription of antihistamines while discomfort and pain may be alleviated by taking anti-inflammatory drugs and medicines. Children and people who are aged over 65 are recommended to seek medical assistance at once as their immune systems may not be robust enough to handle the symptoms and onslaught of walking pneumonia. This is because walking pneumonia can progress and worsen really quickly for the aforementioned individuals or groups of people.
While usually not life-threatening, walking pneumonia can lead to encephalitis and meningitis if left untreated.