Walking Pneumonia

How Long Is the Incubation Period?

It usually takes about two to three weeks after a person is infected before symptoms start to appear. The symptoms show up more gradually compared to regular pneumonia, so a person may not be able to pinpoint exactly when they started feeling sick.

Symptoms of Walking Pneumonia

The symptoms seen with walking pneumonia tend to be less severe than pneumonia caused by other germs, hence the term "walking pneumonia." A person can still feel miserable, however, as the body tries to fight the infection.
Some common signs of walking pneumonia include:
  • A cough (either a dry cough or a cough that produces just a small amount of clear sputum -- if there is color in the sputum, it often happens later)
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • General feeling of fatigue
  • Low-grade fever (99° to 100.9°F or 37.3° to 38.3°C)
  • Chills
  • Runny nose
  • Ear pain.
(Click Walking Pneumonia Signs and Symptoms for other signs that may occur outside of the lungs.)

How Is Walking Pneumonia Diagnosed?

Walking pneumonia is diagnosed based on the symptoms a person has, plus the results of the physical exam. In some cases, a chest x-ray and/or blood tests are needed to help confirm the diagnosis.

How Is It Treated?

Walking pneumonia is treated with antibiotics, such as:
These antibiotics should be taken exactly as prescribed. This will decrease the chances of the medication not completely eliminating the infection.
Getting plenty of rest and drinking fluids will also help. Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) can be used for pain relief and/or fever. Cough medicines are usually not recommended. The only time they are recommended is to help a person sleep.
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Walking Pneumonia Information

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