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Atypical pneumonia

  • Alternative Names

    Walking pneumonia; Chlamydophila pneumoniae; Community-acquired pneumonia - atypical


    Pneumonia due to mycoplasma and chlamydophila bacteria is usually mild.

    • Pneumonia due to Legionella pneumophila gets worse during the first 4 - 6 days, and then improves over 4 - 5 days.
    • Even though symptoms will improve, it may take a while for them to go away completely.

    The most common symptoms of pneumonia are:

    • Chills
    • Cough (with Legionella pneumonia, you may cough up bloody mucus)
    • Fever, which may be mild or high
    • Shortness of breath (may only occur when you climb stairs)

    Other symptoms include:

    • Chest pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply or cough
    • Confusion, especially in older people or those with Legionella pneumonia
    • Headache
    • Loss of appetite, low energy, and fatigue
    • Muscle aches and joint stiffness
    • Sweating and clammy skin

    Less common symptoms include:

    • Diarrhea (especially with Legionella pneumonia)
    • Ear pain (with mycoplasma pneumonia)
    • Eye pain or soreness (with mycoplasma pneumonia)
    • Neck lump (with mycoplasma pneumonia)
    • Rash (with mycoplasma pneumonia)
    • Sore throat (with mycoplasma pneumonia)

    Signs and tests

    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:

    • Complete blood count (CBC)
    • Blood cultures
    • Blood tests to identify the bacteria
    • Bronchoscopy (rarely needed)
    • CT scan of the chest
    • Open lung biopsy (only done in very serious illnesses when the diagnosis cannot be made from other sources)
    • Sputum culture

    Urine tests or a throat swab may also be done.