Atypical pneumonia refers to pneumonia caused by certain bacteria, including Legionella pneumophila, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, and Chlamydophila pneumoniae. It is called “atypical” because the symptoms differ from those of pneumonia due to other common bacteria.
Pneumonia is an infection of the lung.
Mycoplasma pneumonia is a type of atypical pneumonia. It is caused by the bacteria M. pneumoniae. It typically affects people younger than age 40. For more information on this type of pneumonia, see: Mycoplasma pneumonia
Pneumonia due to chlamydia-related bacteria occurs year round and accounts for 5 - 15% of all pneumonias. It is usually mild.
Pneumonia due to Legionella is seen more often in middle-aged and older adults, smokers, and those with chronic illnesses or a weak immune system. It can be more severe.
See also: Legionnaire's disease
Pneumonia due to mycoplasma and chlamydophila bacteria is usually mild.
The most common symptoms of pneumonia are:
Other symptoms include:
Less common symptoms include:
Persons with suspected pneumonia should have a complete medical evaluation. It may be hard for your health care provider to tell whether you have pneumonia or bronchitis, so you may need a chest x-ray. Depending on the severity of the illness, other tests may be done, including:
Urine tests or a throat swab may also be done.
Take these steps at home:
Antibiotics are used to treat atypical pneumonia.
Antibiotics used to treat atypical pneumonia include:
Most patients with pneumonia due to mycoplasma or chlamydophila do well with the right antibiotics. Legionella pneumonia can be severe, leading to problems in patients with kidney failure, diabetes, COPD, and a weak immune system. It can lead to death.
Contact your health care provider if you develop fever, cough, or shortness of breath. There are numerous causes for these symptoms. The doctor will need to rule out pneumonia.
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.
Get a flu shot every year. Ask your doctor if you need a pneumonia vaccine.
Walking pneumonia; Chlamydophila pneumoniae; Community-acquired pneumonia - atypical
Limper AH. Overview of pneumonia. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI,eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 97.
Mandell LA, Wunderink RG, Anzueto A, et al. InfectiousD iseases Society of America/American Thoracic Society consensus guidelines on the management of community-acquired pneumonia in adults. Clin Infect Dis. 2007;44:S27-S72.
Torres A, Menendez R, Wunderink R. Pyogenic bacterial pneumonia and lung abscess. In: Mason RJ, VC Broaddus, Martin TR, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel’s Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa:Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 32.
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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