Pneumonia is an infection of the lung.
With atypical pneumonia, the infection is caused by different bacteria than the ones that cause typical pneumonia. These include Legionella pneumophila, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, and Chlamydophila pneumoniae. Atypical pneumonia also tends to have milder symptoms than typical pneumonia.
Mycoplasma pneumonia is a type of atypical pneumonia. It is caused by the bacteria M. pneumoniae. It often affects people younger than age 40. Pneumonia due to chlamydia bacteria occurs year round. 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. This type of pneumonia is also called Legionnaire 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:
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 or bronchitis, so you may need a chest x-ray. Depending on how severe the illness is, other tests may be done, including:
Urine tests or a throat swab may also be done.
To feel better, you can take these self-care measures at home:
Antibiotics are used to treat atypical pneumonia.
Most patients with pneumonia due to mycoplasma or chlamydophila get better with the right antibiotics. Legionella pneumonia can be severe. It can lead to problems, especially in patients with kidney failure, diabetes, COPD, or a weak immune system. It can also 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.
Don't smoke. If you do, get help to quit.
Get a flu shot every year. Ask your doctor if you need a pneumonia vaccine.
Walking pneumonia; Community-acquired pneumonia - atypical
Baum SG. Mycoplasma pneumonia and atypical pneumonia. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 184.
Mandell LA, Wunderink RG, Anzueto A, et al. Infectious Diseases Society of America/American Thoracic Society consensus guidelines on the management of community-acquired pneumonia in adults. Clin Infect Dis. 2007;44:S27-S72.
Updated by: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, 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.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 1997-2015, A.D.A.M., Inc. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized in writing by ADAM Health Solutions.