How Do I Recognize Walking Pneumonia Symptoms?

Walking pneumonia usually involves an infection in the lungs.
Walking pneumonia symptoms like sore throat dissipate, but the lung infection persists.
A chest x-ray is performed to check the patient's lung function.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 24 July 2014
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Walking pneumonia symptoms usually include fatigue, general flu-like symptoms, and coughing, all with a gradual onset. This mild lung infection is most common in children and teens. It is important to receive treatment because patients will be infectious and can pass microorganisms on to a person with immune compromise who might not be able to fight off the infection. A doctor can evaluate the patient to determine the origin of the symptoms and provide treatment.

People develop walking pneumonia, also known as atypical pneumonia, when they get a lung infection that causes irritation and other symptoms. The infection is not so severe that the person cannot conduct daily activities. The term “walking pneumonia” is a reference to the fact that many patients walk around freely while they fight the infection, and along the way, they can distribute the causative organisms to other people.

It can be easy to identify walking pneumonia symptoms when they all show up together. A persistent cough is the most obvious warning sign. The patient may feel rundown and sleepy, although still active, and will have a sore throat and headache. Some patients have fevers or chills, and joint pain as well as skin rashes can show up too. Enlarged lymph nodes are also a warning sign.


A doctor can evaluate a patient with walking pneumonia symptoms to make a diagnosis. She may recommend a chest x-ray to check on the patient's lung function. Blood tests can identify the presence of infection. It's also possible to perform a culture of the patient's sputum, but this takes so long a doctor usually does not recommend it. By the time the results are back, the patient's health crisis should be over, and thus the culture primarily serves to verify the diagnosis, not to add to the diagnostic evaluation at the time the patient is ill.

The doctor can prescribe medications to kill the organisms that cause the infection. Patients may also need to rest and drink fluids to support their immune systems. A patient with walking pneumonia symptoms should be careful around the elderly as well as people with serious diseases, as these individuals may not be able to resist infection and could become dangerously ill. If a patient with walking pneumonia symptoms develops extreme difficulty breathing, altered level of consciousness, or severe fatigue, she should see a doctor, as the condition may be growing worse.


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