Ask Dr. Nandi: Symptoms and treatment for walking pneumonia in children

Posted at 5:48 PM, Sep 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-08 17:48:19-04

Walking pneumonia sounds very scary. It’s a lung infection often found in kids 5 years and older.  

But it’s a mild form of pneumonia caused by a virus or Mycoplasma bacteria. 

Children who have it don’t feel sick enough to stay home and often want to carry on with their normal activities. Hence the name, “walking pneumonia”.

Kids typically think they have a cold. They feel tired and run-down. 

You’ll likely see common symptoms like coughing, a headache and low-grade fever.  But kids can also have chills, sore throat, vomiting, loss of appetite and ear or sinus pain.

Walking pneumonia can take a week or 6 weeks to clear up.

A doctor diagnoses walking pneumonia usually through a physical examination. You should take your child to your doctor if their symptoms get worse over time. 

Talk to your doctor if body temperature rises above 102 degrees Fahrenheit in kids, or 100.4 in babies 6 months and younger. Seek immediate help if a child shows signs of shortness of breath or chest pain.   

To help a child avoid walking pneumonia, here are my prescriptions:

Partha’s RX:

1. Make sure your child’s immunizations are up to date. This includes getting the flu shot.  

2. Make sure your child frequently washes his or her hands and covers their mouth when coughing or sneezing. 

3. Don’t let a sick child attend school. If they are diagnosed with walking pneumonia, they should not return to normal activities until their fever is gone and treatment if needed is started.  

4. Disinfect commonly used surfaces around the house to help prevent spreading the illness. 

Doctors can prescribe an oral antibiotic called amoxicillin if it’s a bacterial infection. 

If it’s a viral infection, the illness will have to run its course. Kids needs lots of rest, along with fluids and medications to help lower fevers. 

Only use cough medicine if your doctor approves it.