Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD. Patient Handout

About Your Diagnosis
Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a bacteria that commonly causes pneumonia in individuals of all ages. Mycoplasma infections can occur throughout the year but are slightly more common during the winter months. Infection occurs after you inhale contaminated droplets coughed by someone who is also infected. Person-to- person transmission explains why Mycoplasma infections often spread quickly in close living situations, such as within families.

Living With Your Diagnosis
Symptoms usually begin 2–3 weeks after exposure to the Mycoplasma bacteria. Dry, persistent cough is the most common symptom. Fever and headaches also occur. Exposure to Mycoplasma may also cause ear and throat infections. Mycoplasma pneumonia usually completely resolves on its own, but this may take weeks. Only rarely are infections severe enough to warrant hospitalization.

Oral antibiotics are often given to help speed healing. The duration of therapy is usually 5–14 days. Recommended antibiotics include erythromycin, clarithromycin, azithromycin, and tetracycline. Oral erythromycin may cause nausea. Tetracycline should be avoided in children and pregnant women. Nasal sprays and oral decongestants are often used to reduce nasal symptoms. Improvement usually begins within 1 or 2 days of starting antibiotics, although the cough may linger for weeks.

The DOs
• Take your antibiotics exactly as prescribed. If you miss a dose, simply resume at the next scheduled dose and continue to take the pills as scheduled until they are gone.
• Use acetaminophen or aspirin (except in children) for relief of fever and pain.
• Use a nonprescription cough suppressant as needed.
• Rest until you feel better.
• Drink plenty of fluids (six to eight glasses per day) and/or breath moist air to help raise phlegm.

The DON’Ts
• If you are ill, avoid contact with individuals who have chronic medical conditions because they may become very sick if they have Mycoplasma pneumonia.

When to Call Your Doctor
• If you suspect Mycoplasma pneumonia because of a generalized sense of illness, fever, shortness of breath, or phlegm production.
• If your symptoms fail to resolve or worsen after 48 hours of antibiotic therapy.
• If nausea prevents you from taking the prescribed antibiotics.
• If you note blood in the sputum.

American Lung Association