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Mycoplasma Pneumoniae

What you should know

Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a bacteria that causes mild sickness and often, pneumonia (a lung infection) in older children and sometimes young adults.

Doctors often term most sicknesses triggered by the mycoplasma pneumonia as walking pneumonia. The reason is that they are mild. The bacteria M. pneumonia normally causes an infection of the upper respiratory tract accompanied by a sore throat and a cough. Report from CDC (Centre for Disease Control) also confirms that this bacteria is responsible for common chest cold (tracheobronchitis) in children.

Findings from a study conducted a few years ago shows that M. pneumonia is the major cause of about 10 to 40% of all cases developed outside hospital walls. It is highly recommended that medical care be administered immediately symptoms show up.

Who is prone to this disease?

Young adults and older children are highly vulnerable to being affected by this bacterium. People with a weak immune system can also be affected by this disease. The bacteria has a slow method of spreading, unlike some respiratory disease. But people who are under the same roof can catch the disease easily because it thrives where there is close contact, especially in areas like schools.

Mode of transmission

Pneumonia is transmitted via close contact. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, the bacteria present in the droplets can easily be passed on to another person within the same area. The bacterium dries out very fast and can only survive in drops of water. Immediately the bacteria gets to the upper airways; they are not easily removed from the body as they possess special adaptations that make them stick to cells. Symptoms show up when the immune system begins to fight with the bacteria.


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Symptoms of M. pneumonia

It takes about 1 to 4 weeks for symptoms to manifest after exposure to the disease. Report from the CDC shows that the symptoms are similar to those of a chest cold and other respiratory infection. Symptoms are normally less severe and includes:

  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Incessant coughing
  • Headache
  • Sore throat

The above symptoms are for mild cases of infection where the cough is more pronounced. But when the infection moves deeper into the lungs, the symptoms changes to become worse and include:

  • Chest pain that worsens during breathing or coughing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Wheezing
  • General feeling of illness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sweating and shivering
  • Increased heart rate
  • Short, quick breathing

Bear in mind that asthmatic patients go through worse symptoms when infected.


It rarely happens, and there are often no complications of this infection; however, this may not be the case for people who are experiencing a lung disease such as asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Certain persons are prone to have an increased chance of complications if affected by the infection, and it is recommended that they seek medical attention. These persons include those that have a weak immune system and people who are well past the age of 65. They can contract an infection if they have a health condition that has lasted for a long time, or if a doctor has told them that they are prone to other disease.

It is noteworthy to mention that the lungs and other parts of the body are affected by the symptoms. This can result in life-threatening neurological and dermatological diseases like encephalitis and hemolytic anaemia, and other diseases. See a doctor at once for complications such as difficulty in breathing.


To identify the cause of the disease, patients usually undergo a physical examination. This will help the doctor know the medical history, symptoms, and other vital information about the patient. Physical examination may cover an examination of the person's throat, listening to the person's chest, and in severe cases, an X-ray.

Challenges to diagnosis

The diagnosis may not be accurate since the condition shares similarities with other conditions. This makes it difficult to spot the cause or hear any abnormal sound from the lungs. When symptoms are not effectively lowered from treatment for other respiratory infections, a full diagnosis becomes necessary.


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Laboratory test

This one comes in handy when it is obvious that a serious infection is present. It can identify the causative microbe to help the doctor prescribe correctly. Lab tests are done by taking a swab test from the throat or a sputum sample. A blood sample can also be taken to perform the test.


Upper airway infection usually has no drugs for treatment since it causes no serious problems. Patients can bounce back to full health within weeks. Doctors will normally recommend that recovered patients get plenty of rest, plenty of fluids and pain relief. An antibiotic like macrolide can help in the treatment of M. pneumonia. But it works for some persons and not everyone. So, if it does not work, your doctor can prescribe another antibiotic for you.

Complications from treatment

This can happen in a case where the patient has low blood pressure or breathing difficulty, but it is not a problem and can be treated.


Since sneezing and coughing spread the bacteria, people with this infection should be avoided until they have received proper medical care. Certain persons should get pneumonia vaccines, and they include:

  • People having an immune system problem
  • People having heart or lung condition
  • People who smoke

The vaccine to be given depends on the age of the person.

Bottom line

The disease, mycoplasma pneumonia is quite popular lately, but it is not so dangerous. Most times, the patient's health will be restored with minimal or zero treatment within a short period.

We still recommend that persons with symptoms of infections get medical advice to prevent complications. If you need help, you can contact us at the Sexual Health Clinic to book an appointment. For more information, feel free to give us a call on 020 34751653.

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Getting tested is not only quick and easy, it’s the only way to know for sure if you do or do not have an STD/STI.

Put Your Mind at Ease Today

or 020 34751653

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