Walking pneumonia or atypical pneumonia is a mild form of pneumonia which is characterized by a state of relatively good health on the part of the patient. In fact, most cases will resolve on their own if left untreated, and sometimes doctors allow it to do just that. Treatments are available for prolonged cases, or cases which look like they might become more serious without treatment, such as infections in people with compromised immune systems.
The most common cause of walking pneumonia is a bacterium known as Mycoplasma pneumoniae, although this condition can also be viral in origin. The condition is caused by an inflammation of the lungs which causes the victim to experience a harsh cough, often combined with a fever, stomach pains, and sometimes chills or aches and pains. It typically takes one to three weeks from the onset of infection for walking pneumonia to emerge.
When someone has a case of walking pneumonia, he or she usually feels well enough to get around, with a sense of being generally run-down. Many people are not even aware that they have pneumonia, as their immune systems successfully fight the bacteria off on their own. However, people are still contagious, so they can pass the bacterium on to others.
Walking pneumonia can become an issue in someone with asthma or other lung conditions, as the inflammation may exacerbate breathing and lung problems. In these individuals, treatment is strongly recommended, and typically antibiotics are prescribed to kill the bacteria, along with bronchiodilators to keep the bronchial tubes clear, ensuring that the patient does not struggle to breathe. Antibiotics may also be given to patients with persistent cases of walking pneumonia.
Some doctors feel that this infection should be allowed to run its course, as overuse of antibiotics can be dangerous. Patients are usually encouraged to drink lots of fluids, eat well, and exercise, if possible, to stimulate and support the immune system. They may also be advised to stay away from people with compromised immune systems.
Some measures can be used to prevent a case of walking pneumonia, such as washing your hands, ensuring that people cover their mouths while coughing, and eating well to keep the body healthy. These measures will also go a long way towards preventing other sources of bacterial and viral infection.