Child care: What is walking pneumonia?

Walking pneumonia or mycoplasma pneumoniae infection is a mild form of pneumonia that affects individuals of all ages including toddlers. The condition is not common among children below 4 years old unless the child is in preschool or daycare.

The infection can easily spread from one child to another as they interact throughout the day. Even though walking pneumonia is not as serious as the severe type, it is still vital to possess basic understanding of the disease.

Cause

Always bear in mind that walking pneumonia is caused by the bacteria Mycoplasma pneumoniae. This bacteria travels readily from close contact such as from one child to another while playing or from family members via close contact at home. The bacteria are inhaled and travels into the respiratory system where it triggers the infection.

Walking pneumonia

Walking pneumonia or mycoplasma pneumoniae infection is a mild form of pneumonia that affects individuals of all ages including toddlers.

Signs and symptoms

The symptoms of walking pneumonia are strikingly similar to the mild indications of the regular pneumonia. Oftentimes, the symptoms might be missed out as the infection will not prevent the child from engaging in his/her daily activities at home or school.

The usual indications of the condition include the following:

The child might also develop fever, headache, congestion, cough or rashes. Take note that some of the symptoms might become severe as the infection progresses.

Diagnosis

The child that has symptoms of walking pneumonia must be carefully assessed by a doctor. After listening to the chest and noting down any symptoms, the doctor might require a specific blood test.

The blood test analyzes for specific antibodies that are produced as a response to the bacteria. In case the antibodies are present, the doctor will come up with a diagnosis from walking pneumonia and present the suitable treatment options.

The infection might be evident in a chest X-ray as well. There are new diagnostic techniques available which does not involve drawing blood such as throat or respiratory samples, but these are still limited.

Management of walking pneumonia

Since walking pneumonia triggers mild effects, the infection is not treated using antibiotics. Once the symptoms become serious, the doctor might prescribe antibiotics to fight off the infection. Nevertheless, in most cases, children can recover even without using antibiotics and the possibility for complications is uncommon especially if compared to the regular pneumonia.

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