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Mycoplasma Pneumonia

Signs You May Have Mycoplasma Pneumonia: Symptoms to Watch Out For

, by Aussie Pharma Direct, 5 min reading time

Mycoplasma pneumonia has been a worldwide concern, affecting individuals of all ages, however, the recent spike in cases among Australian children adds a new layer of urgency to understanding and addressing this respiratory infection. 

Understanding the nature of this infection is key to early detection and prompt treatment, which is why we’re going to delve deeper into what Mycoplasma pneumonia is, how it spreads, and the tell-tale signs and symptoms to watch out for.

What is Mycoplasma pneumonia?

Mycoplasma pneumonia is a type of atypical bacterial pneumonia notorious for causing respiratory tract infections with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. 

Mycoplasma pneumonia is often colloquially referred to as "walking pneumonia”, where the infected individuals may not exhibit the severe symptoms typically associated with traditional pneumonia caused by other bacteria. Many people with Mycoplasma pneumonia can continue their daily activities despite being infected, unlike more severe forms of pneumonia that often lead to bed rest and hospitalisation.

What causes Mycoplasma pneumonia?

Mycoplasma pneumonia is caused by the bacterium Mycoplasma pneumoniae. Unlike many other bacteria, mycoplasmas are unique in that they lack a cell wall. This absence of a cell wall makes them resistant to antibiotics that target bacterial cell walls, such as penicillin.

How is Mycoplasma pneumonia transmitted?

The transmission of Mycoplasma pneumoniae typically occurs through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The bacteria can also spread through direct contact with respiratory secretions, such as by touching a surface contaminated with the bacteria and then touching the face.

The infection is more common in crowded or close-quarters settings, such as schools, military barracks, and households, where the bacteria can be easily transmitted from person to person.

Mycoplasma pneumonia cases can occur throughout the year, but there may be a higher prevalence during certain seasons. In Australia, as in many other countries, the infection tends to be more prevalent in late summer and autumn.

Who gets Mycoplasma pneumonia?

Mycoplasma pneumonia can affect individuals of all ages, but children, in particular, are considered the most susceptible group to this respiratory infection. Children often spend significant time in close quarters, such as schools and day care centres, where respiratory infections can easily spread from one child to another. Plus, their immune systems are still developing, making them more vulnerable.

Signs and symptoms of Mycoplasma pneumonia

According to the CDC, common signs and symptoms of Mycoplasma pneumonia include:

Respiratory symptoms:

  • Persistent cough (often dry or with minimal sputum)
  • Sore throat
  • Chest pain while coughing

Systemic symptoms:

  • Fever (mild to moderate)
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain

Other possible symptoms:

  • Chills
  • Shortness of breath, especially during physical activity
  • Ear pain

Symptoms in younger children (aged 5 years younger) are usually different than that in adults and older children. Here are the signs to watch out for:

  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Sore throat
  • Wheezing (breathing with a whistling or rattling sound)
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

Is Mycoplasma pneumonia life threatening?

In the majority of cases, Mycoplasma pneumonia is a mild respiratory infection that can be effectively treated with appropriate antibiotics. Most individuals, including children and adults, recover fully with timely and proper medical care.

However, in some instances, particularly in individuals with weakened immune systems or underlying health conditions, Mycoplasma pneumonia can lead to more severe complications. These complications may include:

  • Respiratory failure - In severe cases, pneumonia caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae can lead to respiratory failure, where the lungs are unable to provide adequate oxygen to the body.
  • Extrapulmonary complications - Mycoplasma pneumonia can occasionally lead to complications outside the respiratory system, affecting other organs. These complications may include neurological issues, skin rashes, damage to the heart, and more.

While these complications are possible, they are relatively rare, and the overall mortality rate for Mycoplasma pneumonia is low.

How to treat Mycoplasma pneumonia?

Mycoplasma pneumonia (MP) is typically treated with antibiotics, and the choice of antibiotic depends on factors such as the severity of symptoms, age, and any underlying health conditions. 

Commonly prescribed antibiotics for Mycoplasma pneumonia include macrolides (such as azithromycin), tetracyclines (such as doxycycline), or fluoroquinolones (such as levofloxacin).

Be more aware, and get yourself checked and treated

As symptoms of Mycoplasma pneumonia can overlap with those of other respiratory infections, it becomes crucial to recognise the subtle signs and symptoms we've highlighted in this blog. If you or someone you know suspects Mycoplasma pneumonia, do not hesitate to consult with a healthcare professional.

While dealing with Mycoplasma pneumonia can be challenging, it's reassuring to know that recovery is attainable with proper care, especially when there are also so many ways to aid recovery from Mycoplasma pneumonia.

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