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Mycoplasma pneumonia

Walking pneumonia; Community-acquired pneumonia - mycoplasma; Community-acquired pneumonia - atypical

 

Pneumonia is inflamed or swollen lung tissue due to infection with a germ.

Mycoplasma pneumonia is caused by the bacteria Mycoplasma pneumoniae (M pneumoniae).

This type of pneumonia is also called atypical pneumonia because the symptoms are different from those of pneumonia due to other common bacteria.

Causes

 

Mycoplasma pneumonia usually affects people younger than 40.

People who live or work in crowded areas such as schools and homeless shelters have a high chance of getting this condition. But many people who get sick with it have no known risk factors.

 

Symptoms

 

Symptoms are often mild and appear over 1 to 3 weeks. They may become more severe in some people.

Common symptoms include any of the following:

  • Chest pain
  • Chills
  • Cough, usually dry and not bloody
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fever (may be high)
  • Headache
  • Sore throat

Less common symptoms include:

  • Ear pain
  • Eye pain or soreness
  • Muscle aches and joint stiffness
  • Neck lump
  • Rapid breathing
  • Skin lesions or rash

 

Exams and Tests

 

People with suspected pneumonia should have a complete medical evaluation. It may be hard for your health care provider to tell whether you have pneumonia, bronchitis, or another respiratory infection, so you may need a chest x-ray.

Depending on how severe your symptoms are, other tests may be done, including:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Blood tests
  • Bronchoscopy (rarely needed)
  • CT scan of the chest
  • Measuring levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood (arterial blood gases)
  • Nose or throat swab to check for bacteria
  • Open lung biopsy (only done in very serious illnesses when the diagnosis cannot be made from other sources)
  • Sputum tests to check for mycoplasma bacteria

 

Treatment

 

To feel better, you can take these self-care measures at home:

  • Control your fever with aspirin, NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen or naproxen), or acetaminophen. DO NOT give aspirin to children because it may cause a dangerous illness called Reye syndrome.
  • DO NOT take cough medicines without first talking to your provider. Cough medicines may make it harder for your body to cough up the extra sputum.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to help loosen secretions and bring up phlegm.
  • Get a lot of rest. Have someone else do household chores.

Antibiotics are used to treat atypical pneumonia:

  • You may be able to take antibiotics by mouth at home.
  • If your condition is severe, you will likely be admitted to a hospital. There, you will be given antibiotics through a vein (intravenously), as well as oxygen.
  • Antibiotics might be used for 2 weeks or more.
  • Finish all the antibiotics you've been prescribed, even if you feel better. If you stop the medicine too soon, the pneumonia can return and may be harder to treat.

 

Outlook (Prognosis)

 

Most people recover completely without antibiotics, although antibiotics may speed recovery. In untreated adults, cough and weakness can last for up to a month. The disease can be more serious in older adults and in those with a weakened immune system.

 

Possible Complications

 

Complications that may result include any of the following:

  • Ear infections
  • Hemolytic anemia, a condition in which there are not enough red blood cells in the blood because the body is destroying them
  • Skin rashes

 

When to Contact a Medical Professional

 

Contact your provider if you develop a fever, cough, or shortness of breath. There are many causes for these symptoms. The provider will need to rule out pneumonia.

Also, call if you have been diagnosed with this type of pneumonia and your symptoms become worse after improving first.

 

Prevention

 

Wash your hands often, and have other people around you do the same.

If your immune system is weak, stay away from crowds. Ask visitors who have a cold to wear a mask.

DO NOT smoke. If you do, get help to quit.

Get a flu shot every year. Ask your provider if you need a pneumonia vaccine.

 

 

References

Baum SG. Mycoplasma infections. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 317.

Holzman RS, Simberkoff MS. Mycoplasma pneumoniae and atypical pneumonia. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, Updated Edition. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 185.

 
  • Lungs

    Lungs - illustration

    The major features of the lungs include the bronchi, the bronchioles and the alveoli. The alveoli are the microscopic blood vessel-lined sacks in which oxygen and carbon dioxide gas are exchanged.

    Lungs

    illustration

  • Erythema multiforme, circular lesions - hands

    Erythema multiforme, circular lesions - hands - illustration

    Erythema multiforme lesions are circular and may appear in concentric rings (often called target lesions). Target lesions may also be associated with other medical conditions such as herpes infection, streptococcal infection, tuberculosis (TB), or as a reaction to chemicals or medications.

    Erythema multiforme, circular lesions - hands

    illustration

  • Erythema multiforme, target lesions on the palm

    Erythema multiforme, target lesions on the palm - illustration

    Erythema multiforme lesions are often referred to as target lesions because of the concentric rings the lesions produce. The "target" appearance is well demonstrated in this photograph.

    Erythema multiforme, target lesions on the palm

    illustration

  • Erythema multiforme on the leg

    Erythema multiforme on the leg - illustration

    The red spots on this person's back appear where blisters (bullae) caused by Erythema multiforme have ruptured and the overlying skin removed (denuded). The resulting lesions are yellow-crusted ulcers (erosions). Erythema multiforme may be associated with herpes simplex infection, mycoplasma pneumonia, or other medical conditions such as streptococcal infection, tuberculosis (TB), or may result from exposure to chemicals or medications.

    Erythema multiforme on the leg

    illustration

  • Exfoliation following erythroderma

    Exfoliation following erythroderma - illustration

    This picture shows diffuse redness (erythema) and scaling on the arm.

    Exfoliation following erythroderma

    illustration

  • Respiratory system

    Respiratory system - illustration

    Air is breathed in through the nasal passageways, travels through the trachea and bronchi to the lungs.

    Respiratory system

    illustration

    • Lungs

      Lungs - illustration

      The major features of the lungs include the bronchi, the bronchioles and the alveoli. The alveoli are the microscopic blood vessel-lined sacks in which oxygen and carbon dioxide gas are exchanged.

      Lungs

      illustration

    • Erythema multiforme, circular lesions - hands

      Erythema multiforme, circular lesions - hands - illustration

      Erythema multiforme lesions are circular and may appear in concentric rings (often called target lesions). Target lesions may also be associated with other medical conditions such as herpes infection, streptococcal infection, tuberculosis (TB), or as a reaction to chemicals or medications.

      Erythema multiforme, circular lesions - hands

      illustration

    • Erythema multiforme, target lesions on the palm

      Erythema multiforme, target lesions on the palm - illustration

      Erythema multiforme lesions are often referred to as target lesions because of the concentric rings the lesions produce. The "target" appearance is well demonstrated in this photograph.

      Erythema multiforme, target lesions on the palm

      illustration

    • Erythema multiforme on the leg

      Erythema multiforme on the leg - illustration

      The red spots on this person's back appear where blisters (bullae) caused by Erythema multiforme have ruptured and the overlying skin removed (denuded). The resulting lesions are yellow-crusted ulcers (erosions). Erythema multiforme may be associated with herpes simplex infection, mycoplasma pneumonia, or other medical conditions such as streptococcal infection, tuberculosis (TB), or may result from exposure to chemicals or medications.

      Erythema multiforme on the leg

      illustration

    • Exfoliation following erythroderma

      Exfoliation following erythroderma - illustration

      This picture shows diffuse redness (erythema) and scaling on the arm.

      Exfoliation following erythroderma

      illustration

    • Respiratory system

      Respiratory system - illustration

      Air is breathed in through the nasal passageways, travels through the trachea and bronchi to the lungs.

      Respiratory system

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

      Self Care

       

        Tests for Mycoplasma pneumonia

         

           

          Review Date: 8/21/2016

          Reviewed By: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, MHS, Paul F. Harron, Jr. Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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