Pneumonia is a bacterial inflammation of the air sacs which leads to accumulation of fluid or pus.
That is pneumonia, so what is walking pneumonia? How is it different from the commonly known pneumonia? ‘Walking pneumonia’ (an informal non-medical term) also known as atypical pneumonia is a type of pneumonia that often does not require long-term hospitalization or bed-rest, you most times don’t know you have the symptoms.
Walking pneumonia is caused by bacteria which includes Legionella pneumophila , Mycoplasma pneumoniae , and Chlamydophila pneumoniae.
Symptoms of walking pneumonia are often milder than that of typical pneumonia, however one of the characteristic signs of walking pneumonia is sickly feeling with short termed flu-like symptoms. Statistically, Mycoplasma mediated walking pneumonia affects about 2 million people annually, and it mostly affect people under the age of 40years. One of walking pneumonia symptoms associated with mycoplasma pneumonia is rash.
Legionella pneumonia is often contacted from infested cooling tower water or water supplies inside buildings. This present much more severe symptoms and it occurs mostly in work places. Those who are at higher risk of contracting this are the elderlies, those with compromised or poor immune system, smokers and those with chronic illness. Walking pneumonia symptoms associated with legionella pneumonia is diarrhea and mental confusion common in older people.
Another less severe atypical pneumonia is caused by chlamydophila bacteria, more common in children and adults under 20 years of age.
Symptoms of walking pneumonia
Walking pneumonia symptoms generally are mild and may include the following:
1. Cold followed by high fever
Fever with temperatures above 101⁰F calls for an emergency.
2. Headache and chills
Headache do come occasionally especially if you experience cough and forceful breathing. Chills may result when people are unable to feel warm.
3. Muscle stiffness
Muscle stiffness is also symptom of walking pneumonia
4. Shortness of breath accompanied with forceful breathing
Irritation of the lungs may be accompanied by forceful exertion to get more oxygen into the body.
5. Loss of appetite
Loss of appetite is a common symptom for most infections.
6. Muscle weakness, fatigue and low energy
People who suffer from walking pneumonia often have a sense of malaise which includes fatigue.
7. Profuse sweating and clammy skin
The skin feels damp to touch. Sweating further worsens the clamminess of the skin
8. Sore throat, eye pain, ear pain are all common with mycoplasma pneumonia
Feeling of throat irritation may also be a result of walking pneumonia. This may lead to pain which spreads to the jaw and ears.
It can be difficult to tell if you are having walking or not because you may experience some of walking pneumonia symptoms that are also characteristic of typical pneumonia. The best way to determine this is by consulting with your doctor.
Several diagnostic tests can be used to determine if you have walking pneumonia.
Few of them are: complete blood counts, Chest x-ray, blood culture, sputum gram stain, throat swab, urine test to test for presence of Legionella bacteria, arterial blood test, open lung test (done in complicated cases).
Reporting your symptoms to your doctor early is very important in order to avoid complications. Treatments could be made with antibiotics and IV fluids depending on the severity of the symptoms. Also, the symptoms of walking pneumonia presented will determine the course of treatment to take, whether to be treated symptomatically or probe further, sometimes, the symptoms resolve without treatment especially when you have strong immunity.