Walking Pneumonia in Teens: Major Symptoms you Need to Know


A low grade fever, cold, laboured breathing, ear pain, hacking cough, chest pain, malaise, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, rash, joint pain, fatigue and anaemia are the major walking pneumonia symptoms in teens.

What is walking pneumonia and how is it different from pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an inflammation of the airways caused by an infection, be it viral, bacterial or even fungal. Walking pneumonia although sounds scary but is the milder form of pneumonia. You may have walking pneumonia and not even know of it.  You do not really require bed rest or to be admitted in a hospital if you are suffering from walking pneumonia.

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How is walking pneumonia caused?

Walking pneumonia is a lung infection caused by bacteria, virus, fungi or even chemicals. Usually walking pneumonia is due to the bacterium Mycoplasma pneumonia which causes cold – like symptoms, low grade fever and a hacking cough.


Is walking pneumonia contagious?

Walking pneumonia is contagious and the infection spreads through sneezes or coughs. You can be contagious for up to 10 days.

It is believed by researchers that it takes a lot of close contact for the infection to spread to others. Still widespread outbreaks of walking pneumonia occur every four to eight years.

Walking Pneumonia Symptoms in Teens

walking pneumonia symptoms

Symptoms of walking pneumonia in teens

Walking pneumonia otherwise referred by the doctor as atypical pneumonia is like a common cold but it lasts for longer than a week. The symptoms may set in suddenly or take longer to appear. The slower the symptoms appear the severe the symptoms tend to be.


Your child if suffering prom walking pneumonia can attend school and tend to his or her day – to –day activities without much of a hassle, which is why it is called as ‘walking’. In some cases the child can stay at home till the antibiotics start working and the symptoms improve.

Some of the common symptoms observed in teens or children suffering from walking pneumonia are listed below:

  • A low – grade fever of 101o F or below
  • Cold – like symptoms such as chills, sore throat, headache, etc.
  • Laboured breathing causing the rib muscles to retract.
  • Breathing with wheezing or grunting sounds or fast breathing.
  • Ear pain
  • Hacking cough or coughing that may come in violent spasms
  • Chest pain when the child takes a deep breath in or stomach pain
  • Malaise which means the feeling of discomfort.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rash
  • Joint pain
  • Easily fatigue
  • Weakness persisting even after symptoms subside
  • May have anaemia

Symptoms usually depend on the location of infection. If the infection is on the top or middle of the lung, then your child will present a symptom of laboured breathing. If the infection is on the lower part of the lung, then your child will present with no symptoms related to breathing instead nausea, vomiting, stomach pain.

You can help your child feel better by asking him or her to keep him or herself hydrated by drinking lots of fluid especially when one of the symptoms is fever. If the temperature goes above 102F then consult your doctor. In case of chest pain, use a heating pad or warm compress for relief. Avoid using any cough meds unless prescribed by the doctor as they can stop lungs from clearing out mucus.


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How is walking pneumonia diagnosed?

The doctor can diagnose your child’s symptoms as walking pneumonia after a physical examination only. You will have to list all the symptoms occurred and for how long have they persisted. The doctor shall also ask about the environment living in and studying in too. There will be a distinct crackling sound heard on the stethoscope on breathing.

The doctor can also ask for a chest X – ray or a blood test or mucus samples from nose or throat. The blood sample collected can identify the Mycoplasma infection. These tests thus confirm the presence of walking pneumonia.

How is walking pneumonia treated?

Often the doctor prescribes antibiotics for a five – day course or for a ten –day course. You will have to ensure that your child takes the antibiotics regularly and does not delay the time of consumption or skip it.


Although once the antibiotic course has started the risk of infection passage to other family members is minimal, you should still ensure that your child does not share drinking glasses, utensils, towels, or any other items. Encourage your child and also other family members to maintain hygiene by washing their hands with an anti – bacterial hand wash at regular intervals of time.

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How is walking pneumonia different from bronchitis?

Bronchitis and pneumonia are often confused as they both cause similar symptoms in the affected individuals. The common feature of both these illness is cough that lasts for weeks. There are however certain distinguishing symptoms between the two.

Bronchitis is inflammation of the lungs which may develop after a common cold and is usually viral. So antibiotics are not helpful in treating bronchitis. Bronchitis resolves on its own in a week or so however, coughing persists for long.  Some of its symptoms are:

  • Persistent coughing with or without mucus
  • Body aches
  • Chest congestion
  • Wheezing

Pneumonia is the inflammation of the airway which can be caused by bacteria, virus or fungi. Person suffering from pneumonia feels the severity of the symptoms more than a person affected by bronchitis would. Some of its symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Painful and frequent coughing
  • Productive cough as it may bring up mucus or any other fluid during coughing
  • Fatigue


Walking pneumonia is similar to pneumonia where there is inflammation of the airways but it is a milder form of pneumonia. Here, if you are affected you may think it as a common cold and your health will not be severely compromised.

In teens, walking pneumonia is quite common. Some of the symptoms observed are a low grade fever of 1010 F or below, productive cough, laboured breathing, malaise, fatigue, vomiting, loss of appetite, chest pain, ear pain, etc.

Your doctor will diagnose walking pneumonia by a physical exam or chest X – ray or even by collecting your blood sample. Your doctor will treat walking pneumonia by prescribing certain antibiotics to be taken for a specific course of time.





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