Is Walking Pneumonia Contagious?

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According to the Mayo Clinic, 60,000 Americans die each year from pneumonia, an alarming statistic that could cause anyone to be concerned. Pneumonia can be mild or life threatening. Although serious cases of pneumonia require hospitalization, walking pneumonia is milder. It does not require hospitalization, and many people have it without realizing it. Bed rest is important, as well as antibiotics to shorten the time of the illness.

Identification

  • The Mycoplasma pneumoniae organism causes walking pneumonia. It is a bacteria that infects the lungs. The condition is usually mild, so many sufferers do not see a doctor. Symptoms are headache, nausea, sore throat, fever, chills and chest pain. Sometimes people continue to work because they do not feel they need bed rest, hence, the name "walking pneumonia."

Warning

  • Mycoplasma pneumonia, which is contagious, spreads easily through airborne droplets. When you inhale the organisms, they pass into your lungs' air sacs. Some people can fight off the organisms, but others cannot. It is important to see a doctor if the symptoms last more than a week. Two million people a year contact walking pneumonia. Children are the most susceptible, with 70 to 75 percent afflicted.

Time Frame

  • Normally, colds and flu symptoms clear up within a week. If you have walking pneumonia (Mycoplasma pneumonia), the symptoms may last up to a month. The incubation period is one to three weeks. Once you begin a regimen of antibiotics, the symptoms will disappear quickly, except for a possible dry cough. It is important that you follow the doctor's orders because complications can arise. Antibiotics stop you from being a carrier, so you will not be contagious.

Types

  • Antibiotics commonly used for walking pneumonia are tetracycline, clarithromycin or erythromycin, which are extremely effective. Doctors recommend bed rest as well. Even though the antibiotics will stop the spread of walking pneumonia, it is advisable to wear a mask for the first few days or avoid contact with people in order to control an outbreak.

Prevention/Solution

  • It's difficult to avoid walking pneumonia because it has a long incubation period and many people do not realize they have it. If you have flu-like symptoms that last more than a week, see a doctor. Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing and avoid long-term exposure in crowded areas. If someone you know has walking pneumonia, avoid contact unless she is on antibiotics. Wash your hands before eating, drinking, after the use of the restroom and frequently throughout the day.

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References

  • Photo Credit the nurse with a mask on face sits at a table image by Cosmic from Fotolia.com
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