One type of bacteria is Mycoplasma pneumoniae. For older children and young adults it sometimes triggers a minor cough, but it may also cause pneumonia, a lung infection.
The bacteria normally cause cough and sore throat to infecte the upper respiratory tract.
Most illnesses which are caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae (M. pneumoniae) are mild. Doctors often call them, for that reason, “walking pneumonia.”
In children the bacteria are responsible for the common “chest cold,” or tracheobronchitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC).
If a person has any symptoms of an infection, medical attention should be sought.
M. Pneumoniae is an illness commonly acquired by the community. A 2015 report indicated that 10 to 40 per cent of all cases arise outside hospitals or clinics.
Risk factors: Who gets it?
M. Pneumoniae infection has the greatest potential to affect young adults and older children. Other populations at high risk include older adults and individuals with weakened immune systems.
Outbreaks may occur at locations where groups of people, such as schools and nursing homes, mix closely together.
M. Pneumoniae spreads more gradually than other respiratory diseases, but within the same household it can affect people.
It can only happen when there is near contact between people, because M. Pneumoniae quickly dries out. It can only live on droplets of water.
If an individual coughs or sneezes, the infection spreads as droplets containing the bacteria pass through the air.
It can only happen when there is near contact between men, because M. Pneumoniae quickly dries out. It can only live on droplets of water.
But, once the bacteria get into the upper airways, they are hard to extract from the body.
Special modifications allow them to stick to the cells. That is how they inflict harm and start a war with the immune system , causing signs of disease.
Most cases of M. Pneumoniae infection last several weeks in mild form.
According to the CDC the signs typically take 1 to 4 weeks to appear. The signs indicative of a chest cold are:
The M-symptoms Infection with pneumoniae is similar to in other respiratory infections. Lasting cough is its main attribute.
The more serious symptoms will arise when infection occurs deeper in the lung.
These can include:
- difficulty breathing
- rapid, shallow breathing
- chest pain that feels worse when a person breathes or coughs
- raised heart rate
- sweating and shivering
- a loss of appetites
- malaise, or a general feeling of being unwell
An asthma patient can find this infection with M. Pneumoniae worsen symptoms.
M complications. Pneumoniae are rare, but may affect people who are already suffering from lung disease, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Individuals would be more at risk for complications if they:
- are over 65 years old
- have a weakened immune system
People should see their doctor each time they get an infection if:
- they already have a long-term condition
- a doctor has told them that they might be more vulnerable to illness
Symptoms can also affect other areas of the body, and not just the lungs.
Anyone who has symptoms which make it difficult to breathe should see a doctor as soon as possible. Hospitalisation can be required if complications occur.
A doctor should ask the person about their history with illness, any symptoms and when these first began.
They’ll also do a physical test, including listening to the chest and inspecting the throat of the person. When symptoms are severe, an X-ray can be needed.
The M-symptoms Infection with pneumoniae can be more subtle than in other types of lung infection. The doctor may not hear any unusual sound coming from the lungs, for example. This may make diagnosis more difficult.
In addition, since M. Pneumoniae has similar effects to other disorders and can be difficult to identify. The doctor would have to rule out other conditions.
A definitive diagnosis will only be expected if the symptoms do not respond to the normal upper respiratory infection therapies, which include certain forms of bacteria.
Doctors typically do not prescribe laboratory tests for a mild infection with pneumonia, because they can be inaccurate, costly, not readily available, or take a long time.
Nonetheless, if the signs indicate that a more severe infection may occur, laboratory testing is an option. Often, they will display what sort of microbe is present. Understanding this lets the physician focus about what kind of drug treatment the infection will respond to.
The doctor will take a sputum sample, a throat swab or a wash from the upper lung tubes to do the examination.
A blood test may identify signs of presence of an infection by searching for antibodies.
Most cases of M. pneumoniae upper airway infection will not need any drug treatment. The infection will continue its course without serious problems.
Usually the person returns to full health after several weeks, while cough can last longer.
Normally the doctor recommends:
- resting at home when feeling unwell
- drinking plenty of fluids
- taking over-the-counter pain relief for a headache or a sore throat
This can be difficult to differentiate between the more common types of pneumonia infection and that which comes from M. pneumonia.
Many forms are viral or fungal, and the antibiotics won’t respond. However, most doctors will treat it with a carefully selected antibiotic, after diagnosing pneumonia.
Macrolide antibiotics can be effective in treating an infection caused by M. Pneumoniae but not everyone’s going to work. Research shows that macrolide resistance is on the increase. In the United States, up to 10 percent of cases of M. Pneumoniae can be those medicines resistant.
Doctor may recommend other antibiotics, such as fluoroquinolones or tetracyclines, if macrolides do not work.
The person must take the full course to ensure that the antibiotic works, just as the doctor suggests.
Often people stop taking antibiotics when their symptoms go away, but since traces of the bacteria remain, the infection will return later.
The person will also receive care for these if complications occur.
If a person’s blood pressure is low, or they need assistance with breathing, intensive hospital care may be appropriate.
Coughing will spread the bacteria to other people as with other upper respiratory tract infections.
People should also avoid close contact with others if they have the infection, or feel unwell, and have a cough.
Pneumococcal vaccination should be given to the following groups:
- those who are susceptible to this type of infection
- people with an existing heart or lung condition
- people with an immune disorder
- those who smoke
The type of vaccination depends on the age group. A doctor can advise about this.
M. Pneumoniae causes inflammation of the respiratory tract which is fairly normal and relatively mild. The person usually returns untreated to full health.
An individual with some indication of infection should therefore seek medical advice because complications can often occur.