Phenomia, also known as walking pneumonia or atypical pneumonia, is a lung infection caused by various microorganisms or one of several strains of bacteria. Most people who contract this illness are able to continue working or going to school and in many cases do not realize they have walking pneumonia and may think they have a nasty chest cold or the flu.
How does Phenomia Differ from Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is generally clinically defined by certain patterns of inflammation and fluid in the lungs. It’s cause, however, is what defines typical vs atypical pneumonia (or phenomia). Pneumonia is usually caused by streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenza or Moraxella catarrhalis. Atypical pneumonia, or Phenomia, is caused by a whole host of other organisms that may be bacteria, viruses, fungi or protozoa. Another significant difference noted between pneumonia and phenomia is their presentation. Generally speaking, phenomia doesn’t present with the severity as pneumonia. Patients with walking pneumonia generally are only suffering from moderate amount of phlegm, lower fevers, smaller increases in white blood cell counts and no alveolar exudate. In fact, despite these symptoms, a patient with phenomia overall looks better than their symptoms suggest, making it possible for them to be misdiagnosed and thereby go untreated.
How is Phenomia Contracted and What is it Caused By?
Phenomia is most often contracted by air-borne pathogens entering the mucous airways by a person who has come in contact with another person who is carrying the illness. It is also possible, though more rare, to contract the disease hematogenously (by blood) as a result of sepsis or other infection diseases that are being treated. Most commonly, it is caught by same method as the flue and the common cold: by tiny droplets of microorganisms being inhaled by the victim.
Phenomia can be caused by many different microoganisms but its most common bacterial causes are listed as follows:
• Coxiella burnetii
• Chlamydia psittaci
• Mycoplasma pneumoniae
• Legionella pneumophila
• Chlamydia pneumoniae
• Francisella tularensis
This is by no means a full list of potential bacterial causes. While it is true that in rare cases this disease is caused by various fungi or protozoans, phenomia generally implies a bacterial cause and is contrasted with viral pneumonia.
Who is Susceptible?
The elderly and children are particularly susceptible to this disease as are people who struggle with chronic lung disease, heart disease, prolonged bed rest, smoking, compromised immune systems, nasal pharynx, and alcoholism. Developing pneumonia of any strain is a serious risk of any person dealing with prolonged bed-rest. Essentially, any condition that weakens the body’s immune response raises a body’s susceptibility to contracting phenomia.
• Sore Throat and Fever
• Not responding to commonly prescribed antibiotics, such as sulfonamides and beta-lactams (e.g.: penicillin).
• No Lobar consolidation: Unlike pneumonia, phenomia tends to stay restricted to small areas of the lung rather than involving the whole lobe. “Lobar Pneumonia” describes the infection of the whole lobe and is possible with phenomia that isn’t being treated and is allowed to progress.
• Chills and Muscle Aches/Flu-like Symptoms
• Harsh Cough: Atypical pneumonia often presents with moderate to no sputum with harsh coughing. Non-productive, hacking cough is a common symptoms with phenomia.
Reducing the Risk of a Phenomia Infection
Frequent hand washing, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and covering coughs and sneezes correctly (inside of the arm or with a cloth or napkin as opposed to a hand) are all ways to reduce the risk of infection and to keep infection from spreading. For people who work in medical institutions and are exposed to people infected with airborne pathogens, wearing a facemask goes a long way to preventing contraction of this disease. It is also vitally important to get an adequate amount of rest as the human body becomes more susceptible to illness when it’s fatigued.
Treatments for Phenomia
A diagnosis of phenomia often requires chest x-rays as physical symptoms are often mild enough not to immediately point to pneumonia. Treatment after diagnosis is usually by strong antibiotics and rest. Very rarely is hospitalization required for phenomia.
There is no definite recovery time. However, the effects of the infection can last up to three weeks with coughs often persisting considerably longer.
In closing, phenomia is generally understood to be a milder form of pneumonia in most cases (but not all). In general, treatment is rest, analgesics to minimize discomfort and a round or two of antibiotics.