How Do I Recognize Walking Pneumonia Symptoms?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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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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Post 4

Do you know that pneumonia is the leading cause of deaths in children five and younger throughout the world? We need to do a better job of vaccinating children before pneumonia symptoms become an issue. What good is a vaccine when you store the drug rather than administering it where it is needed?

Post 3

The term walking pneumonia really can be confusing, but the term that causes the most confusion for people is double pneumonia. I have heard many people use the term as if it means a really bad case of pneumonia. However, technically double pneumonia means that both lungs have pneumonia.

Double pneumonia symptoms can be more severe, but the term does not mean pneumonia multiplied by two. You can have a really bad case of pneumonia and still not have double pneumonia.

Post 2

@Laotionne - When you are diagnosed with walking pneumonia this means that you have the symptoms that go along with pneumonia, and since the person is still walking about you can assume that his symptoms of pneumonia are mild compared to regular pneumonia when a person has to be checked into a hospital.

Walking pneumonia is a less precise diagnosis. As this article mentions, patients can sometimes recover in the time it would take to get the tests to absolutely determine that he or she has pneumonia.

Post 1

So does this mean that walking pneumonia is the same thing as pneumonia, but people just continue to function, or is walking pneumonia a different condition, not as severe as pneumonia?

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