10 Signs of Walking Pneumonia

Walking pneumonia or atypical pneumonia is a bacterial infection that mostly occurs in the lower, but may also affect the upper, respiratory tract. The condition is less severe than other types of pneumonia, and the symptoms are treatable with rest and over-the-counter medications. Many people confuse walking pneumonia with the common flu because they have nearly identical symptoms, and though the former often lasts longer, it generally resolves within a few weeks at most. Usually, symptoms start to develop within two weeks of exposure, though in some cases, the bacteria can incubate for up to a month.

Sore Throat

One of the most common symptoms of walking pneumonia is a sore throat, which can cause irritation, pain, and itchiness. A sore throat often develops along with other symptoms of infection in the upper respiratory tract, including coughing and wheezing. It is important to distinguish the symptoms of walking pneumonia from those of bronchitis. The latter’s symptoms mostly affect the bronchial tubes, whereas walking pneumonia commonly affects any part of the respiratory tract from the bronchioles down to the alveoli. That is why a person is more likely to experience irritation and discomfort in the throat with pneumonia. Medication and cough syrup can alleviate pain, but it is best to first consult a physician.


Another typical symptom associated with walking pneumonia is inflammation. The tissue of the throat may become inflamed due to the presence of bacteria. Inflammation is often an early sign of the infection, developing slowly as the body activates its immune defenses. Other symptoms follow, including a dry cough and pain when swallowing. One of the most frequent types of walking pneumonia is mycoplasma pneumonia, which often leads to milder symptoms compared to other types.

Dry Cough

A dry cough produces only some mucus, which may be blood-tinged, as opposed to a wet cough which produces large amounts of phlegm. In most cases, infections such as a cold or the flu cause a dry cough, and associated symptoms include irritation, difficulty breathing, and in some cases, dizziness. Drinking tea with lemon and honey and elevating the head during sleep can help alleviate a dry cough.


A headache is one of the characteristic signs of walking pneumonia. Headaches may be mild or severe and usually worsen over the first few days. People experiencing this symptom should make sure to drink enough water, as dehydration can exacerbate the pain. Pain medications may also help ease this symptom, and rest is always recommended.


People with walking pneumonia frequently experience chills. This symptom occurs when the muscles rapidly contract and relax. This natural mechanism aims to produce heat and often occurs when the body feels cold. Chills may indicate the onset of a fever. Those experiencing this symptom should keep warm and drink warm beverages such as herbal tea or heated milk. Anyone who experiences a lasting high fever, particularly after taking an anti-inflammatory medication, should see a doctor.

Difficulty Breathing

Depending on the severity of the cough and the progress of the infection, some people with walking pneumonia have trouble breathing. A variety of factors can lead to shortness of breath, including breathing passage blockages and heart conditions. Extra mucus production and inflammation during a bout of pneumonia narrow the airways. People may need to exert more effort than usual to fill the lungs with oxygen, and this can increase the difficulty of the simplest actions. Shortness of breath is a serious symptom of walking pneumonia and calls for medical attention.

Flu-Like Symptoms

It can be difficult to distinguish between the common flu and walking pneumonia due to the similarity of symptoms. Just like the flu, walking pneumonia can cause chills, muscle pain, coughing, and a sore throat. Some symptoms can help professionals and patients differentiate between the two, however. Walking pneumonia is more likely to cause only a dry cough, while the flu can lead to both a dry cough and phlegmy expectoration. The flu also tends to cause more severe physical aches.

Abdominal Pain

Even though walking pneumonia mostly causes symptoms that affect the neck and lower respiratory system, some people experience abdominal pain as well. The muscle contractions that cause chills can exacerbate these, as can frequent coughing. In most cases, this pain is mild.


Wheezing during exhale or inhale is a common symptom of walking pneumonia. Inflammation and mucus can cause this effect, and these can also contribute to difficulty breathing, which can become serious and life-threatening.

Loss of Appetite

During a walking pneumonia infection, the body is busy fighting off the virus. This can decrease appetite because the body wants to focus its energy on healing rather than digestion. Despite this, it is vital to keep eating healthy foods to ensure the body maintains the energy it needs to get better. Staying hydrated with water and other healthy liquids is also vital.