How to Recognize Walking Pneumonia Symptoms


Dec 2, 2019


Catching a cold is never fun, especially when it brings coughing and fatigue. The cause of your sickness can often be difficult to pinpoint, and different diseases require specific treatments. One common illness that often gets misunderstood as a different problem is walking pneumonia. Most people have heard about pneumonia, but what is walking pneumonia? And, how can you recognize and treat the illness?

What is walking pneumonia?

Also called atypical pneumonia, walking pneumonia is a bacterial infection that impacts the upper and lower respiratory tract. It’s not as detrimental as other types of pneumonia, and it’s often mistaken for the common cold. Similar to other types of pneumonia, however, walking pneumonia is just as contagious. So, as people carry on with their lives thinking they simply have a common cold, they’re actually spreading the disease.

Walking pneumonia is considered atypical because the infection can’t be cured with penicillin – the drug typically used for other types of pneumonia. That’s due to the cells causing the infection being resistant to the drug. Even with proper treatments, walking pneumonia can last a week to a month – depending on the severity of your illness.

Walking Pneumonia Symptoms

Signs of walking pneumonia are similar to the common cold and are mild compared to other types of pneumonia. They typically occur gradually, and may include:

  • Sore throat
  • Inflammation in the windpipe
  • Persistent dry cough
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Labored breathing
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Chills
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite

Diagnosing Walking Pneumonia

There are certain groups of people who are more likely to contract, experience more severe symptoms, or have a great risk of complications from walking pneumonia. These groups include anyone over the age of 65, anyone younger than two years old, people with compromised immune systems, people who smoke, or anyone living with respiratory conditions.

If you or a loved one belong to one of these categories, you should visit an emergency care clinic to see a doctor. They’ll perform a physical exam and learn about your overall health and medical history. They’ll review your symptoms, and if they have concerns, they may schedule an x-ray to determine the type of pneumonia or respiratory illness that you’re experiencing. Other tests may include:

  • Culturing mucus from your lungs
  • Studying sputum gram stains 
  • Swabbing your throat
  • Scheduling a complete blood count test
  • Testing for specific antigens or antibodies

Treating Walking Pneumonia

If you visit a doctor and are diagnosed with the type of bacterial infection that impacts your lungs, then you may be prescribed antibiotics to help you recover. You’ll need to take all of the antibiotics, even if you’re feeling better. This ensures you eliminate the infection and prevents it from returning. For those in the high-risk groups, you may require hospitalization if symptoms are severe. Talk to your doctor about your risks.

For those with mild walking pneumonia symptoms, you can resolve the infection with diligent home care. It’s important to avoid others during the 10-day period when your symptoms are the worst. To quicken your recovery, you should:

  • Reduce your fever with ibuprofen
  • Drink lots of water and other fluids
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Avoid cough suppressants

Emergency Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you or a loved one show signs of having a common cold, but show walking pneumonia symptoms, we can provide the care you need. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.

Find the Complete Care location nearest you.