This article will focus on walking pneumonia symptoms to look out for, and then a look at treatments available for the condition.
What is Walking Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a infectious lung condition that requires medical attention. Pneumonia has two kinds, ‘typical’ and ‘atypical’. Typical is the type that strikes abruptly. The symptoms are more challenging to treat, and cause a greater discomfort to the patient compared to the atypical kind.
The other type, atypical, is the type that strikes gradually. In addition, complete bed rest is not required, hence the term “walking pneumonia.” The symptoms are tolerable and not as heavy as typical pneumonia. Patients can ambulate or move about even with this condition, so is therefore the non-severe case. The root cause is the bacteria Mycoplasma
Pneumoniae. This bacteria releases hydrogen peroxide that causes cell and tissue damage in the lungs. It is also the cause of other lung problems.
Walking Pneumonia Symptoms and Signs
Look out for the following:
- Breathing – Changes in breathing pattern are the classic symptoms of pneumonia. Shortness of breath, panting and difficulty of breathing can be noted. In pneumonia the lungs cannot functioning normally, therefore the delivery of oxygen to our body is insufficient. The nail beds and/or lips may appear bluish.
- In addition, coughing (with little or no phlegm), mild chest pain, drowsiness and mental confusion are other symptoms of walking pneumonia.
- Due to infection, fever and chills may be present. Due to coughing, other pains may evident including a sore throat, abdominal pain (due to pressure from coughing) and headache.
- Weight loss can occur during walking pneumonia. This is because the appetite is suppressed and there a constant fatigue may result.
Diagnosis With These Symptoms
What are the tests to confirm Walking Pneumonia? A series of diagnostic tests are performed to rule out other lung problems. This is for the purpose of specifically identifying the case to be sure that the correct treatment is applied. The tests may include:
- With the use of a stethoscope (hearing device), the physician will auscultate the lungs (listen) to assess the breath sounds. A wheezing sound indicates narrowing of the passageway or blockage.
- Chest X-ray – an imaging test to assess the structure of the lungs and to check for any fluid accumulation.
- Pulse Oximetry – a clip-on probe is attached to the index finger. This is a test to detect the oxygen levels in the blood. If the result is less than 90%, the lungs are not functioning properly.
- Blood test such as CBC (Complete Blood Count) to determine WBC levels. Increase in White Blood Cells mean infection. Blood culture may be ordered as well to check if the organism has spread through the system.
- ABG (Arterial Blood Gas) – the blood will be withdrawn from the femoral artery (wrist or thigh part). This is to assess for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.
Home Care Remedies
What are the self care remedies that may help with walking pneumonia?
- Increase fluid intake to prevent dehydration and to loosen phlegm.
- Cover your cough by using facial mask or handkerchief to prevent spread of infection. This is also to protect you from the irritants in the environment like dust and pollen. Frequent hand washing is strongly recommended.
- Get sufficient rest and sleep. It is also recommended to elevate head of bed by placing two pillows under the head. This is to position the body to aid in better breathing process.
What are the medical treatments available?
- Antipyretic medications – prescribed to lower the body temperature.
- Antibiotics – a medication designed to kill the bacteria causing the problem. It stops the growth of bacteria and prevents their multiplication.
- Oxygen therapy – usually given in the level of 1 – 2 Liters per minute. This is to ensure sufficient supply of oxygen in the body.
How can we prevent the problem?
- Vaccination – advised to be given to infants, elderly, frequent travelers and people with lowered immunity (such as those diagnosed with Cancer, Diabetes, AIDS, etc.). Vaccines will increase our immunity against it. However, if acquired, the symptoms are lesser and healing is faster.
- Preventive measures – using of masks in clinical environments and practice of hand hygiene will prevent . In addition, air sterilizers also help prevent this lung condition due to its air purifying effects.
Walking pneumonia symptoms can be hard to spot as they may be mild. Look out for any problems such as difficulty breathing and those listed above. As with any lung conditions, seek early medical advice.