Pneumonia, along with influenza, stands eighth on the list of leading causes of death in the United States, according to the 2011 mortality report of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pneumonia is an infection which commonly affects Americans, leading to hospitalization due to serious complications, and sometimes even death if the infection has become fatal. It is caused by an infection in the lower and upper respiratory tract, resulting into fluid or pus fill up in the air sacs of one or both lungs due to inflammation.
However, one type of pneumonia does not necessarily involve bed rest or hospitalization. It’s called atypical or walking pneumonia. Surprisingly, patients never come to know they are carrying the infection until it’s diagnosed, as it does not affect their daily life. Nevertheless, it still needs to be treated to avoid complications.
Walking pneumonia is again categorized into different types and the causes are specific to each of them. The type of germ, whether bacteria, virus, fungus, or parasite, or any other infectious agent through chemicals or inhaled food will decide the seriousness of the infection, its treatment, and who gets infected.
Mycoplasma pneumonia may require hospitalization, but very rarely, because it is relatively a milder form of the infection. The type of walking pneumonia that commonly infects school-aged children is chlamydophilia pneumonia. Legionella pneumonia is a highly complicated type which can cause death or at least respiratory failure; however, it does not spread to other people unlike other pneumonia forms.
One thing to note about walking pneumonia is that you never catch it, but the germs that cause it, which eventually make you sick with their specific infection. So, it’s actually the pneumonia germs that spread person to person and not the infection. That’s why there are different types of walking pneumonia according to the type of germ.
The symptoms are so mild that the infected person may not be able to make out if they are really infected and confuse them with those of common cold. However, there are exceptions with few forms of walking pneumonia—rash in mycoplasma pneumonia and diarrhea in legionella pneumonia. Otherwise, you could expect : appetite loss, low-grade fever, tiredness, muscle pain, persistent dry cough, chills, breathing problems, etc.
How to prevent walking pneumonia?
Pneumonia can easy affect smokers and people with weak immune system. That self-explains how you should lead your life to dodge the infection. Quit smoking if you do, get treated for any underlying health problems or diseases you’re currently suffering—people with asthma, HIV, cancer, cystic fibrosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are at high risk.
Make sure you wash your hands at regular intervals, get proper rest, have a well-balanced diet, and exercise regularly. Don’t forget to cover your mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing to avoid others getting infected as pneumonia can be contagious.
More by Victor Marchione