Mycoplasma pneumonia is a respiratory lung infection which is caused by a bacteria of the same name, Mycoplasma pneumoniae or M. pneumoniae. It is also recognized as atypical pneumonia or walking pneumonia.
This strain of pneumonia usually presents itself in people younger than 40 years of age. Some studies show that M. pneumoniae shows up in 20-50% of adult pneumonia cases and even more in the younger school age population. This infection is most common in summer and fall.
You can spread the mycoplasma germ through droplets from the nose and the throat and through the sneeze of an infected person. This does not happen immediately and is believed to need prolonged contact with these infected people. People that work or live in crowed environments are most at risk. This includes homeless shelters, factories, institutions and schools. The contagious period is believed to be 10-14 days. If you have been exposed to these bacteria, the symptoms will usually occur within 15-30 days. They will appear slowly over a 2-4 day period.
Some of the typical symptoms of mycoplasma. pneumonia are fever and cough, sore throat, tiredness, and headache quite often. Some less frequent symptoms that should not be taken lightly are ear and eye pain, lumps in the neck, rapid breathing and sometimes a skin rash. These symptoms generally last a week, but have been known to persist for a month.
If one is suspected of having this pneumonia, a cold agglutinins test is helpful and may be the only test that is required. But if this test is not definitive then a thorough medical evaluation will be done which includes a complete physical exam and chest x-rays. If satisfaction is not reached from these tests, a complete blood count (CBC), bronchoscopy, sputum culture and urine test may be ordered.
If you have been diagnosed with mycoplasma pneumonia, the chances that you will get it again are rare, but occasionally it does happen. It is nice to know though, that the symptoms are much milder the second time around.
The main treatment for mycoplasma pneumonia is antibiotics such as erythromycin, or clarithromycin. If the symptoms are mild, antibiotics may not be recommended. Home treatment of plenty of liquids, plenty of rest and a high protein diet may be all that is recommended for mild cases.
Most people recover completely from mycoplasma. pneumonia without antibiotics, but antibiotics speed up the process. At this time there is no known vaccine prevention for this pneumonia, so the best prevention would be to try to avoid people and situations where you know the problem may exist. As with many contagious illnesses, the elderly, people in poor health, and people with poor immune systems should avoid contact with known mycoplasma pneumonia carriers.