What are Some Walking Pneumonia Symptoms?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 23 June 2019
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The name walking pneumonia refers to a type of lung infection that comes on gradually. An infectious organism called mycoplasma pneumoniae usually causes it. Unlike other forms of pneumonia, walking pneumonia symptoms are milder, especially at infection onset. People usually don’t need immediate bed rest and may inadvertently pass the infection to others because they’re still up and around. As the condition worsens, about two to three weeks after infection occurs, more symptoms become present.

At first walking pneumonia may be indistinct from colds or respiratory viruses. Some people have congested noses, headache, and may feel tired. Sore throat may follow or may be present at onset and many people have mild fevers. One of the big differences between walking pneumonia and the standard cold is that colds typically improve in two weeks. Symptoms usually get worse after two weeks and a person may have a strong wet cough or a dry cough. Sleeping becomes challenging because cough can be worse at night.

Children may have a few symptoms that are different than those expressed by adults. Some kids have a skin rash and may have diarrhea, nausea or vomiting. A few children may show signs that they are having difficulty breathing and some kids and adults get chills or have swollen glands. Regardless of the general mild nature of walking pneumonia, difficulty breathing should be treated as an emergency.


Both adults and kids may have complications of walking pneumonia. Some people develop ear or sinus infections. Another common complication is bronchitis. Young children with this condition may be especially vulnerable to croup.

When untreated, walking pneumonia symptoms continue and will create a dry cough. Some people are able to recover without treatment, but the condition can worsen. Usually, if you note signs of walking pneumonia like cough, fatigue, fever and headache, you should see your doctor. Most cases are easily treated with certain forms of antibiotics and can make recovery much quicker. Follow doctor’s advice on use of other medications, like cough medicine, to treat some symptoms.

Some respiratory viruses tend to occur during certain seasons of the year. Walking pneumonia can occur any time during the year. The condition can easily affect a whole population living together or groups of people that interact closely on a regular basis. Outbreaks of this illness can occur at summer camps and kids in schools may easily pass this condition to each other.

Another definition of walking pneumonia can confuse people. Sometimes when people have pneumonia of viral origin, it is also referred to as “walking.” Unlike bacterial pneumonia, viral pneumonia isn’t treated with antibiotics.


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Post 7

I had the the flu the first of January, and since then I've had a double ear infection, sinus infection and now bronchitis. Could I have walking pneumonia?

I never get sick, but since the flu I can't seem to shake off anything. I am tired, nauseated, headache and a constant wet cough. No sleep. I am very active and have taken a daily vitamin for several years. The cough is so bad my co-workers act like I have the black plague or something.

Post 6

It just feels really, really crappy, and it lasts for weeks.

Post 5

I was diagnosed with the flu a week before Christmas and started to feel better but had a bad cough especially at night. I started to feel tired again around Christmas and still coughing but ignored it, thinking it was my body still trying to recuperate.

My husband told me to please go to the doctor and they told me I had developed pneumonia. If I had gone to the doctor when I started feeling bad again, I think I would be much better by now. I'm young and this stuff is bad. I wish I had taken better care of myself!

Post 4

I started with a sharp pain in my side like cramps, then the cold, then back pain, fatigue and tiredness. Now I have a sore, dry throat and flu-like symptoms. Help. Also I have mrd in leukemia and it is incurable.

Post 3

I got an unconfirmed diagnosis of walking pneumonia a few days ago. Symptoms: severe headache, preceded by off and on cold and flu-like symptoms since September.

Sequence: Thought I'd had a cold for a couple of weeks, got better for a couple of weeks, contracted another more severe "cold virus," got better for a week or so, then progressed to extreme fatigue and severe headache. Must have been working toward pneumonia weeks ago.

My case is unconfirmed due to a $5000 insurance deductible. An understanding nurse practitioner recognized my budget constraints and respected my inability to incur $500 for chest x-ray/doctor visit to confirm. Treatment: doxycycline x 10 days. Today = Day # 5 of treatment/dose # 9.

Notable: headache returns between doses

. Fatigue continues. Haven't walked with my dear dog friends for a week.

Advice: if you get a severe cold and it goes away but comes back again with even more symptoms, consider a doctor visit for medication. I'm missing out on a lot of life lying around "resting."

Post 2

I have had walking pneumonia and it came from having a cold and bronchitis that I did not take care of. If you are feeling sick and have a fever, always consult a doctor to prevent getting worse illnesses such as walking pneumonia versus having a cold that is easily treatable.

Post 1

What's the difference with regular pneumonia other than milder symptoms, and can this turn into some type of severe pneumonia? Is this more common among kids? Sounds like it can easily be confused with a cold, and if ignored can turn into something more severe. It would be hard to determine right away until symptoms get worse.

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