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Most of us only know about one type of pneumonia - the one that hospitalizes about 1 million people every year. However, there's another kind called walking pneumonia, whose symptoms are very similar to the common cold or flu.

About two million people in the US catch walking pneumonia every year. Most think it's a bad cold and go about life, as usual, assuming the symptoms will pass. That's how the disease got its name!

While walking pneumonia isn't severe enough to knock you off your feet, it's quite contagious. It spreads easily in crowded areas such as schools, hospitals, and nursing homes. Even worse, while it can take two weeks for the symptoms to show up, you're still contagious during the two-week incubation period.

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How Can You Tell It's Pneumonia?

With pneumonia, the cough is worse, fevers are 102 or higher, shivers are accompanied by teeth chattering, and the mucus is rusty or green with specks of blood. Most people experience a sharp pain in the chest that's made worse by deep breaths. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, nausea, diarrhea, and confusion, especially in older people.

If any of the above symptoms persist for more than 3-5 days, see a doctor as soon as possible. Keep in mind that pneumonia can get worse really fast, especially in kids.

Walking pneumonia is particularly hard to diagnose. What differentiates it from a bad cold is the duration and severity of the symptoms.

by Selena

How is it Diagnosed and Treated?

Your doctor will ask questions to determine if you've been exposed to pneumococcal bacteria, will listen to your lungs, and order tests to confirm the diagnosis. If you have bacterial pneumonia, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics. However, if it's viral, the doctor can only prescribe symptom-relieving medication and lots of rest.

Walking pneumonia sometimes goes away on its own if you have a strong immune system, but it's not a good idea to wait it out; seek medical attention.