Walking pneumonia is a form of atypical pneumonia brought by the Mycoplasma pneumoniae bacteria. Even though it is a mild form of pneumonia, the symptoms can be bothersome, linger for a month or longer and in rare cases, become serious and even dangerous.
Walking pneumonia is prevalent among school-age children. After exposure to an individual infected by the Mycoplasma pneumoniae, it might take 1-4 weeks until the child becomes sick.
What are the signs?
The initial signs of walking pneumonia are strikingly the same as the flu or common cold and start gradually with fever, diminished activity, headache and sore throat.
A child might develop dry cough that is worse at night. The coughing increases as time goes on, even as the fever and other symptoms settle. The cough might become productive, even streaked with blood and can last for 3-4 weeks.
Other signs that might be present include:
- Skin rash
- Muscle pain
- Wheezing and crackles in the chest
- Chest pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Difficulty breathing
Management of walking pneumonia
The main options of treatment for walking pneumonia are generally supportive which includes rest, increased intake of fluids and antibiotics such as erythromycin, azithromycin and clarithromycin.
Remember that children with walking pneumonia might remain contagious after treatment with antibiotics.
Unlike with other infections that are prevalent during certain times of the year such as rotavirus, RSV and flu during winter, children can acquire walking pneumonia at any time of the year.
A doctor should be seen if a child has lingering cough or suspect that he/she has walking pneumonia.