Mycoplasma pneumonia is an infection of the lungs by the bacteria Mycoplasma pneumoniae (M. pneumoniae).
This type of pneumonia is also called atypical pneumonia because the symptoms are different from those of pneumonia due to other common bacteria.
Mycoplasma pneumonia usually affects people younger than 40.
People who live or work in crowded areas such as schools and homeless shelters have a high chance of getting this condition. But many people who get sick with it have no known risk factors.
Symptoms are often mild and appear over 1 to 3 weeks. They may become more severe in some people.
Common symptoms include any of the following:
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, bronchitis, or another respiratory infection, so you may need a chest x-ray.
Depending on how severe your symptoms are, other tests may be done, including:
To feel better, you can take these self-care measures at home:
Antibiotics are used to treat atypical pneumonia:
Most people recover completely without antibiotics, although antibiotics may speed recovery. In untreated adults, cough and weakness can last for up to a month. The disease can be more serious in the elderly and in those with a weakened immune system.
Call for an appointment with your doctor if you develop a fever, cough, or shortness of breath. Although there are numerous causes for these symptoms, you will need to be checked for pneumonia.
Also, call if you have been diagnosed with this type of pneumonia and your symptoms become worse.
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.
Do not smoke. If you do, get help to quit.
Get a flu shot every year. Ask your doctor if you need a pneumonia vaccine.
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.
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