Walking Pneumonia

What is Walking Pneumonia?

Walking pneumonia is a form of pneumonia that involves the lower and upper respiratory system. People who have this condition do not know they have it since their daily activities are not affected. This condition does not require you to be hospitalized as compared to other forms of pneumonia1, 4.

Walking pneumonia symptoms


Walking pneumonia can take several forms such as:4

Mycoplasma pneumonia

Mycoplasma bacterium is responsible for causing this type of pneumonia. People with this type of pneumonia have flu and cold as signs and symptoms and rarely do patients with this condition are hospitalized. It can also cause serious health problems that need the patient to be treated.

Chlamydophilia pneumonia

Chamydophilia bacterium causes this type of pneumonia and it mostly affects children going to school.

Legionella pneumonia

This form of pneumonia occurs as a result of Legionella pneumophila bacterium entering your respiratory tract and infecting it. This type of pneumonia cannot be spread from one person to another unlike other forms of pneumonia. It is more severe since it can lead to your respiratory system failing and eventually causing death.


The causes of this condition depend on the form you have. In many cases, this condition is caused by fungi, bacteria, virus, chemicals and other contagious agents that come into your boy via the throat, nose, windpipe and lungs. Legionella pneumophila bacteria, chamydophilia bacteria and mycoplasma bacteria are responsible for causing walking pneumonia7.

Risk Factors

Although anyone can develop walking pneumonia, this condition affects adults below 40 years and children. People living in congested places like schools, prison and informal shelter are more prone to walking pneumonia.

  • Those who smoke are vulnerable to this condition.
  • People suffering from chronic diseases are at risk of developing walking pneumonia.
  • People with a weak immunity are more vulnerable to any infections because the body has lost its defensive mechanism.


Walking pneumonia

  • Signs and symptoms of this condition are mild and many people do not know they have this condition. People confuse this condition with common cold. Symptoms usually begin slowly after about two weeks of being exposed the infection agent and may become worse over the month. Symptoms are as follows patients having chills and cough. Patients also have high body temperatures or fever and headache.4
  • Some patients experience muscle aches and stiffness. Patients also complain that they lose appetite when they have this condition. Symptoms may also differ depending on which part of the respiratory tract is infected. When the upper respiratory system is infected, you will experience labored breathing, while if it’s the lower respiratory system (lungs), you will have nausea, vomiting and stomach upsets.
  • Other symptoms include having short breath and breathing rapidly. Patients have a sore throat and the windpipe and its branches may become inflamed. Patients may have pain in the abdomen and feel pain in the chest when breathing.
  • Symptoms of walking pneumonia in children, infants and toddlers are similar to those experienced by adults. As a parent, ensure the symptoms of this condition in your child have completely improved before allowing him/her to go to school.

Walking pneumonia can spread through the following ways5:

  • Through coughs or sneezes. A person with this condition can spread to other person through sneezing and coughing.
  • When you are in close contact with an infected person, you are more likely to get walking pneumonia.


Many people with walking pneumonia do no visit a doctor. However, in case you visit the hospital, your health professional will use a number of methods to diagnose this condition. These methods include:

Physical exam

Your health professional will ask you past health record and the symptoms you are experiencing so as to get detailed information about the condition you are suffering form.

Chest X-rays

Your health professional will conduct this test to determine problems in the respiratory system. After this test, your health professional will discuss with you the results of the test.2

Sputum Gram Stain

Sputum refers to a combination of mucus and saliva from respiratory system. A sputum gram stain analysis is a test that allows the doctor to check for bacterial infection in your respiratory system. Your doctor can suggest this test when you are showing symptoms of pneumonia.3

In this test, your health professional collects a sample of sputum using an instrument called bronchoscopy. Your health professional can also ask you to collect your sputum. To collect your own sputum, you need to cough it up and if you find it difficult in doing this, your health professional will give you some medicines to help you cough it.

Before taking sputum sample on your own at home, keep into considerations the following:

  • Take a lot of fluids the previous night before taking the sample to help your body make more mucus and saliva.
  • Take your sample of mucus and saliva early in the morning before consuming anything.

A complete blood count (CBC)

This is a blood test performed to find out your general health and several disorders in your body. This test examines several components in the blood such as:

  • Red blood cells
  • Platelets
  • White blood cells
  • hemoglobin

Any unusual increases or decreases in cell count as shown by complete blood count may indicate that you have an underlying medical condition.

Blood cultures

This test checks for unfamiliar substances and microbes in the blood. Your doctor may suggest this test if you show signs and symptoms of blood infection.


Walking pneumonia can be managed at home and in the hospital if you have Legionella pneumonia. This condition can be treated using antibiotic medicines. Antibiotics are prescribed basing on the type of bacterium causing walking pneumonia. Patients with Legionella pneumonia need to be hospitalized and receives treatment such as respiratory therapy if you have trouble breathing, intravenous fluid and antibiotic therapy.1

There is no vaccination for walking pneumonia. You can boost your recovery from this condition at home by having enough rest and taking a lot of fluids.

Reference list

  1. Walking Pneumonia. Available at http://www.healthline.com/health/atypical-pneumonia
  2. Chest X- rays. http://www.healthline.com/health/chest-x-ray#followup6
  3. Sputum Gram Stain. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003765.htm
  4. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pneumonia/expert-answers/walking-pneumonia/faq-20058530
  5. Walking Pneumonia. Available at http://www.lung.org/about-us/blog/2017/02/what-is-walking-pneumonia.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/

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