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What is Mycoplasma Pneumoniae Infection, Know its Symptoms and Treatment Options

What is Mycoplasma Pneumoniae Infection?

Mycoplasma Pneumoniae is a bacterium that primarily causes mild infections in children but also has a tendency to cause pneumonia. In the initial phase, Mycoplasma Pneumoniae causes an upper respiratory tract infection causing persistent cough and sore throat. The illnesses caused by this bacterium are relatively mild which gives it its name of “Walking Pneumonia.”[1]

How common is the illnesses caused by Mycoplasma Pneumoniae cannot be predicted as in most cases the patients remain asymptomatic and even if symptoms do appear they are quite mild and not require any medical attention. However, this bacterium is one of the most common causes of community acquired pneumonia.[1]

What is Mycoplasma Pneumoniae Infection?

The diagnosis of Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infections, however, are quite challenging as most of the symptoms are nonspecific and even the radiological studies do not throw up any concrete evidence. Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infection very rarely becomes serious and in the literature mortality in at maximum up to 30% seen only in the elderly population affected with Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infection.[1]

What Are The Symptoms of Mycoplasma Pneumoniae Infection?

The symptoms of Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infection usually appear within a week to up to a month after contracting the infection. The symptoms of Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infection are extremely similar to other respiratory tract infections and include throat soreness, feeling of tiredness and fatigue, and fever. Some people have a persistent cough and headaches. The only feature that separates Mycoplasma Pneumoniae from other respiratory infections is the presence of the persistent cough.[2]

In case if the infection is deep within the lungs, then the severity of the infection increases somewhat and includes problems with breathing and audible wheezing. The patient will also complain of rapid shallow breathing as a result of Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infection.[2]

Some people also have chest pain when coughing and breathing. There will be significant loss of appetite. In people with a known diagnosis of asthma, the symptoms of Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infection will be worse when compared to the normal population.[2]

What Are The Treatment Options For Mycoplasma Pneumoniae Infection?

Majority of the cases of Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infections are mild and do not require any treatment. The infection generally runs its course and the symptoms resolve. It usually takes a few weeks for the individual to return back to normal health. The cough may however persist for a longer period of time.[2]

During the time when the symptoms of Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infection are at their peak, the patient will be advised to take rest and relax and take plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration due to fever. Over the counter medications for headaches and sore throat are also quite effective in calming down the symptoms. Some patients may need antibiotics to clear away the infection.[2]

In some cases, it becomes difficult to differentiate between the symptoms of pneumonia and Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infection. However, if pneumonia is diagnosed then more aggressive treatment will be given to the patient. The most preferred and effective antibiotics for Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infection are called macrolides.[2]

However, studies have suggested that the bacterium is becoming more and more resistant to macrolides which calls for more effective treatment measures for Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infection. In case if macrolides are ineffective, then alternative antibiotics will have to be used like fluoroquinolones or tetracycline. For antibiotic to be effective, it is required that the patient complete the entire course as prescribed by the physician. This is extremely important as not doing so may lead to recurrence of the infection.[2]

Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infection seldom has any complications. In case if these do arise, then the patient will have to be treated for that as well. For people with hypotension or have problems breathing, then an inpatient stay will be advised for intensive treatment for Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infection.[2]

Similar to upper respiratory infections, coughing caused due to Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infection also is contagious and can spread from one person to another. This is the reason why people should avoid coming in close contact with an infected person.[2]

In conclusion, Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infection is quite a common condition which can affect people of any age but is generally seen in children. The symptoms caused by this infection are relatively mild and does not require any medical intervention in most cases. The Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infection runs its course for about a week or two and then the symptoms completely goes away.[2]

However, if symptoms do not subside within a week or so then a consultation with a physician is recommended. In some people, Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infection can cause pneumonia. In such instances, a strong course of antibiotics will be prescribed to manage the symptoms. Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infection otherwise is completely benign and poses no threat to the overall health of a person.[2]


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 17, 2019

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