Pneumonia vs. Walking Pneumonia
Does pneumonia really walk, and is double pneumonia just double talk?
Medical Author: Charles P. Davis, MD, PhD
Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
First, the symptoms of walking pneumonia are mild -- usually a cough that can be frequent with little or no phlegm, a low or absent fever (usually under 101 F), and feeling more tired after normal activities. Some patients may get muscle aches or back aches, an occasional rash, or headaches. The symptoms are present for a few days usually before patients seek medical care because "the symptoms are not too bad but they just seem not to go away." In addition, many patients have additional problems such as sinus infections, sore throat, or asthma.
Most of these symptoms can occur in both adults and children; however, children may appear more short of breath than adults. Many physicians will do a chest X-ray to help obtain evidence for a presumptive diagnosis, but others will not. Mycoplasma pneumoniae is considered the major cause of walking pneumonia by many clinicians, but it is seldom confirmed by any test. Consequently, many clinicians will give an antibiotic such as doxycycline(Vibramycin, Oracea, Adoxa, Atridox) to treat the presumed Mycoplasmainfection. If the "walking pneumonia" is due to Mycoplasma, the antibiotic will help rid the person of the infection and make the person less contagious or noncontagious. However, if the cause is not Mycoplasma, the antibiotic may not help at all. In general, walking pneumonia can be contagious for up to about a month if treatment is not given. The symptoms also can last about a month or so if the patient is not treated.