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Posts Tagged ‘Walking Pneumonia’

What is “Walking Pneumonia”? By Our September Student Pharmacist, MiKayla Matheny.

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Most people know someone who’s had pneumonia but not everyone really knows what it is.

Pneumonia is a lung infection that is often caused by bacteria but can be due to viruses or other germs. Pneumonia happens when an infection causes the air sacs in the lungs to fill up with mucus. This can cause a fever, chest pain (that is usually worse with deep breaths), a fast heartbeat, shaking or chills, and coughing that brings up mucus.

When a pneumonia is really bad, it needs urgent medical attention and treatment to help prevent further problems. Sometimes, however, pneumonia can be pretty mild and may be hard to recognize. This type of mild pneumonia is sometimes called a “walking pneumonia” because a person who has it may not feel very sick and can still walk around, go to work, and do most of their normal activities. A person with walking pneumonia may have headaches, body aches, a persistent cough, and generally feel tired or run-down. These symptoms are not always bad enough to make a person think they are sick or they may be mistaken for the symptoms of a common cold.

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Walking pneumonia may not sound so bad compared to what people tend to think of with a serious, full-blown pneumonia, but it is still very important to treat it. Here’s why:

Walking pneumonia is usually caused by a different, more unusual type of bacteria than most other pneumonias. This type of bacteria (doctors call it Mycoplasma) grows more slowly than other pneumonia-causing germs but can be harder to get rid of. This means that walking pneumonia tends to get worse slowly, but usually does continue to get worse without treatment. The bacteria that typically cause walking pneumonia can be resistant to some common antibiotics, so it is very important to get treatment early. Treating walking pneumonia, or any type of pneumonia for that matter, as early as possible helps the person recover much more quickly and reduces the risk of having other more serious problems. If you have symptoms that could be pneumonia, it is important to see a doctor.

Even with very mild symptoms, walking pneumonias can still be contagious and spread to other people. An infection which might just be uncomfortable or inconvenient for a young, otherwise healthy person can be devastating if it gets passed to someone with a weaker immune system. Young children, older people (>65 years), and people with chronic medical conditions like asthma, COPD, uncontrolled diabetes or kidney problems are much more at risk of having serious problems if they catch pneumonia.

To help prevent the spread of pneumonias and many other infections (like the flu) always cover your coughs and sneezes and wash your hands frequently. Stay home when you are sick and wear a face mask if you need to go out in public. It is also very important to get your flu shot every year and as well as pneumonia shot if you need one.

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