Atypical pneumonia is also known as walking pneumonia and it can be caused by a variety of pathogens. It is isolated disease and not related to other conditions. This is usually a mild infection and the most common infective agents involved in the process of inflammation are Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Legionella pneumophila and Chlamydophila pneumoniae. Atypical pneumonia caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae is usually mild and in case infection is caused by Legionella bacteria the symptoms are more intensive and serious. In typical pneumonia symptoms and sings of the disease are much more intensive. On the other hand, people suffering from atypical pneumonia do not have to be bedridden. The disease is passed via nasal and oral secretions expelled by cough and sneezing and the infection is considered rather contagious.
Symptoms of Atypical Pneumonia
General symptoms of atypical pneumonia include low energy levels, headaches, muscle aches and lethargy. Patients may develop skin rash and they commonly complain about runny nose, sore throat and chest pain. Furthermore, there is a fever accompanied by chills, cough and as the disease progresses, one experiences shortness of breath.
Diagnosing Atypical Pneumonia
All the previously mentioned symptoms need to be taken seriously and one should make an appointment with his/ her health care provider. A doctor will perform thorough physical examination, auscultation of the lungs and do a chest X-ray. Chest-X ray is of major importance in setting of the definitive diagnosis. This way the doctor has insight in certain changes in the lung tissue and can differentiate pneumonia form other lung diseases. Additional tests include complete blood count, blood cultures, urine test and throat swab. They may be rather helpful in establishing the exact type of pneumonia.
Treatment for Atypical Pneumonia
The symptoms of atypical pneumonia develop gradually. Initially there is lethargy, low energy levels and headache. Once the patient starts to cough and develop fever he/ she is due to visit a doctor since the symptoms have obviously fully developed. The major problem people suffering from atypical pneumonia have to face with is discomfort while sleeping. This problem is a consequence of accumulation of secretions in the lungs. Therefore, these patients are recommended to sleep and rest in an angle instead of lying flat.
If atypical pneumonia is caused by Legionella it requires special medical attention. If left untreated the symptoms and infection may linger up to a month.
Generally, atypical pneumonia in both, children and adults, is treated with antibiotics (azithromycin, tetracycline and erythromycin). Patients are hospitalized only in case of severe infection. This particularly refers to elderly patients and those with weak immune system. It is essential to take lots of fluids and additional help is obtained from inhalations.