23 Oct How Long does Walking Pneumonia Last and How to Treat It?
Walking pneumonia is an informal term for pneumonia that is not severe enough to require hospitalization or bedrest. Most patients with this have atypical pneumonia, such as Chlamydia pneumoniae. People describe a cough, chills, and aches, but can continue their daily activities. Around 2 million people each year develop walking pneumonia in the United States.
Causes of Walking Pneumonia
The most common cause of walking pneumonia is Mycoplasma pneumoniae, which can grow and live in the throat, nose, windpipe, and lungs. The bacteria do not have rigid cell walls, and the organisms can change their size and shape depending on their environment. The term atypical is derived from a mycoplasma pneumonia because the bacteria are resistant to penicillin and other antimicrobial agents.
Another microorganism that causes walking pneumonia is Chlamydia pneumoniae. This type of illness is spread through person-to-person contact when someone sneezes or coughs. School-age children are at the highest risk for this infection. Legionella pneumonia live in the environment and often grow in water. People with this disease acquire the illness when they inhale water mist or vapor containing the bacteria.
Treatment for Walking Pneumonia
Atypical pneumonia is caused by a bacterial infection of the upper and/or lower respiratory tract. Some people with this condition have mild symptoms, but will feel tired and have a cough. If your doctor suspects walking pneumonia, he/she will order a chest x-ray, which is the standard of care for diagnosing pneumonia. The doctor will also perform a physical examination and take a medical history.
The onset of walking pneumonia is gradual, with an incubation period of 1-4 weeks after exposure. During the later stages of the illness, symptoms worsen, and fever becomes higher. Coughing may yield discolored sputum also. The treatment for atypical pneumonia is a cycline antibiotic, such as doxycycline, or a macrolide antibiotic, such as azithromycin.
Walking Pneumonia Recovery Time
Walking pneumonia is often caused by a type of bacterium that produces milder symptoms that come on more gradually than do those of other types of pneumonia. The illness often is brought home by young children who contract it at school. Family members of infected children typically begin having symptoms two or three weeks later. This kind of pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics. Recovery time is usually 5-10 days, but maybe longer.
Over the past decade, some strains of mycoplasma have become resistant to macrolides due to the widespread use of azithromycin to treat infections. People with Legionnaires disease often require hospitalization, and complete recovery may take up to 4 months. During recovery, the doctor will advise you to take your medication, rest, drink clear fluids, and eat healthily.
Homecare for Walking Pneumonia
Once you see a healthcare provider, home treatment is important for your pneumonia recovery. The following measures will help you recover and avoid any complications. These include:
- Get plenty of rest, so the body’s immune system can recharge
- Drink plenty of fluids to prevent/rectify dehydration
- Frequent coughing and deep breathing, to get oxygen to the lower lungs and remove secretions
- Take over-the-counter fever reducers (avoid aspirin in persons 20 and younger)