Walking Pneumonia in Children: Care Instructions

Skip to the navigation

Your Care Instructions

Respiratory system in a child, including sinuses, throat, windpipe, and lungs.

Walking pneumonia is an infection of the lungs caused by the mycoplasma bacteria. This form of pneumonia is usually mild and feels like a chest cold, but it can get worse. The symptoms of cough, headache, and a low fever start slowly. The infection is usually so mild that your child may walk around with it without knowing he or she has it. Most children don't get sick enough to be in the hospital. It is more common in younger people.

Walking pneumonia is usually treated with antibiotics.

Your child's cough may last for a few weeks after the infection has been treated. He or she may have some wheezing too. These symptoms will go away over time.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think your child is having a problem with his or her medicine.
  • If the doctor prescribed antibiotics for your child, give them as directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Ask your doctor if you can give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for fever or fussiness. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 18. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
  • Be careful with cough and cold medicines. Don't give them to children younger than 6, because they don't work for children that age and can even be harmful. For children 6 and older, always follow all the instructions carefully. Make sure you know how much medicine to give and how long to use it. And use the dosing device if one is included.
  • Make sure your child rests. Keep your child at home if he or she has a fever.
  • Keep your child away from smoke. Do not smoke or allow anyone else to smoke in your house.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has severe trouble breathing. Symptoms may include:
    • Using the belly muscles to breathe.
    • The chest sinking in or the nostrils flaring when your child struggles to breathe.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or worse symptoms.
  • Your child has new or worse trouble breathing.
  • Your child coughs up yellow, dark brown, or bloody mucus (sputum).

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child has a new or higher fever.
  • Your child has new symptoms, such as a rash, an earache, or a sore throat.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter S568 in the search box to learn more about "Walking Pneumonia in Children: Care Instructions".