Viruses or bacteria can cause walking pneumonia. The most common cause of the illness in school-aged children is Mycoplasma pneumoniae. These bacteria also cause bronchitis and chest colds.
M. pneumoniae can spread easily among children. That is especially true when they are in close contact with one another, such as in the same household, at school, or at a camp. The germ can spread through airborne droplets from sneezing, coughing, or talking. It is most often spread in the fall and winter.
Children with walking pneumonia may have these symptoms:
These symptoms may appear anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks after exposure to the viruses or bacteria. They may last from a week to a month.
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Treatment also depends on the cause of the illness. Your child will have to take antibiotics if the infection is from the bacteria M. pneumoniae. If the illness is from a virus, then antibiotics won’t work. The illness will have to run its course.
To help your child recover more quickly, make sure he or she:
Walking pneumonia is usually a mild illness. But it can get worse. Complications of the illness include:
Some types of pneumonia can be prevented with a vaccine. But no vaccine is available for an infection caused by the bacteria M. pneumoniae.
You can help your child prevent walking pneumonia with good hygiene. Teach your child to cover his or her nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Your child should also wash his or her hands often. These measures can help prevent other infections, too.
Call your child’s healthcare provider if your child’s symptoms worsen. Or if he or she has:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider: