Debunking the Cough: Mycoplasma Pneumoniae in Children – What You Need to Know

  Have you noticed that in the autumn and winter of this year, the disease term “mycoplasma pneumonia” was mentioned very frequently. In hospitals across the country, especially in pediatric outpatient and inpatient wards, the number of patients with mycoplasma pneumonia has increased dramatically, making it one of the important infectious diseases that threatens children’s health. Many children had severe coughs that did not get better for several days. Parents thought it was bronchitis, but after going to the hospital for examination, they discovered that it was Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection. So, what exactly is Mycoplasma pneumoniae? How does it spread? How to prevent and treat it?
  Mycoplasma is neither a bacterium nor a virus, but the smallest known pathogenic microorganism that is between the two and can survive independently. Mycoplasma that can cause lung infection is called Mycoplasma pneumoniae. Mycoplasma pneumoniae is mainly spread through droplets. The pathogen can be carried in the secretions of coughs, sneezes, and runny noses. It mostly occurs in autumn and winter. People of all ages may be infected, especially children and adolescents over 5 years old.
  The incubation period of Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection is long. Under normal circumstances, symptoms do not appear until 2 to 3 weeks after infection, and symptoms are mainly fever and cough. Because the symptoms are similar to those of a common cold, it is easy to mistake it for a common cold and ignore it. What is different from the common cold is that the fever body temperature is mainly moderate to high, which can last for 1 to 3 weeks; the cough is paroxysmal dry cough at the beginning, and later turns into a stubborn severe cough with a small amount of sticky phlegm, and during the fever and It may last up to 2 weeks after other symptoms disappear.
  Of course, patients or parents infected with Mycoplasma pneumoniae do not need to worry too much. Generally, infected people have no symptoms or only have mild cough, fever, sore throat and other cold symptoms, and they usually recover on their own in 7 to 10 days. However, a small number of patients will have persistent severe dry cough that does not get better for a long time. At this time, it may have caused bronchitis, pneumonia and other lower respiratory tract infections. If timely medical treatment is not sought and treatment is delayed, it will cause irreversible damage to the lungs and leave sequelae. Therefore, please pay attention to seek medical treatment promptly when the following symptoms occur:

  ●The body temperature exceeds 39°C and is difficult to retreat, accompanied by complications such as chills and drowsiness.
  ●Persistent severe dry cough that gradually worsens.
  ●Diarrhea and loss of appetite.
  ●Superficial lymph node enlargement in the neck, armpit, and abdomen occurs.
  ●Wheezing or difficulty breathing may occur.
  What should you pay attention to after Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection? For patients with mild symptoms, they should pay attention to adequate rest and intake of sufficient energy, maintain the balance of water and electrolytes, and perform oxygen therapy appropriately according to their condition. For those with obvious cough, antitussive drugs may be used as appropriate. Patients with severe fever and cough symptoms or those who have not recovered for a long time need to consider drug treatment. For severe cases, additional glucocorticoids and bronchoscopy may be needed.
  The first choice of drugs is macrolides, including azithromycin, roxithromycin, clarithromycin, etc. For drug-resistant mycoplasma infections, doxycycline/minocycline or quinolones can be used according to the condition. Tetracyclines (eg, doxycycline, minocycline) and quinolones (eg, moxifloxacin, levofloxacin) may also be used for treatment. However, it should be noted that tetracycline antibiotics may cause yellowing of teeth and hypoplasia of enamel, and should not be used by children under 8 years old. Because quinolone antibiotics may affect the growth of joints, cartilage and other parts, patients under the age of 18 should not use them. Therefore, you must strictly follow the doctor’s instructions for treatment, and do not blindly self-medicate based on “experience”.
  In addition, traditional Chinese medicines such as clearing away heat and replenishing the lungs can also be used in combination. Depending on the cold and heat of the disease, prescriptions such as Huagai Powder, Yinqiao Powder, Sangju Yin, Sangxing Decoction, Xingsu Powder, and Maxing Shigan Decoction can be used as appropriate.
  There is currently no preventable vaccine for Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection. The most important thing is to develop good personal hygiene habits and a healthy lifestyle.
  Avoid gatherings. During the epidemic season, try to avoid going to crowded and poorly ventilated public places, and wear a mask when necessary.
  Pay attention to cough etiquette. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or cover it with your elbow or upper sleeve, and throw the used tissue into a covered trash can.
  Develop good hygiene habits. Use soap and hand sanitizer to wash your hands under running water or wipe and disinfect your hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Pay attention to indoor ventilation twice a day for no less than 30 minutes each time to keep the air fresh. Clean and disinfect your home frequently. Both 75% alcohol and chlorine-containing disinfectants (such as 84 disinfectant) can kill Mycoplasma pneumoniae.
  Increase resistance. Go to bed early and get up early, don’t stay up late, and maintain adequate sleep; have balanced nutrition. You can eat more lily, white fungus, white radish, lotus root, pear and other foods that nourish yin, moisturize the lungs and prevent dryness, and eat less spicy and irritating food; exercise properly and avoid excessive exhaustion. Sweat to avoid losing energy.

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