(also called atypical pneumonia) is a subtype of pneumonia, a contagious condition marked by pus and inflammation that clog up the airways making it difficult to breathe. Pneumonia can be life-threatening (especially for the immunocompromised), but walking pneumonia is rarely serious and doesn’t usually require hospitalization. It may, however, require antibiotics or other medication to clear up.
Symptoms of Walking Pneumonia
Many people make the mistake of ignoring a cold that’s lingered on too long, when really, it may not be a cold at all. Walking pneumonia mimics the symptoms of a cold, but if it is left untreated and doesn’t clear on its own, it could potentially cause complications. Some of the common symptoms of walking pneumonia include:
- Sore throat
- Excess mucus or sputum
- Chest pain upon inhalation
- Labored breathing or wheezing
- A harsh cough that flares up and calms down again (but won’t seem to go away)
- Aches and pains
- Fever or chills
- Weakness or faintness
- Skin symptoms such as a rash
- Loss of appetite or unintentional weight loss
How Does Walking Pneumonia Develop?
Walking pneumonia can be caused by a bacterial, fungal or viral lung infection or inhaled irritants, but is most often caused by the bacterium Mycoplasma pneumoniae
. It is a contagious condition, often being passed through a contaminated person’s sneezes or coughs in crowed places like schools or hospitals. Symptoms don’t usually start surfacing until many days after exposure (it can take nearly a month).
When Should You Check it Out?
Even though walking pneumonia is usually mild enough that a person can go about their daily business, if it starts hanging around too long you may need antibiotics (only
if it is bacterial by nature) or other prescribed medicine to help clear it up. A doctor may also need to do some tests to check your lungs for any residual problems from the condition. So, if you’ve been experiencing the above symptoms or have a “cold” that has lasted longer than 10 days, it is time to get your lungs checked out.
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