Before modern diagnostic tests were available, researchers noticed that some pneumonias had different characteristics compared to “typical” pneumonias - CDC
image by: Sayedul Islam Sayed
The term atypical pneumonia has become well-established in medical parlance. Originally used to describe an unusual presentation of pneumonia, the term has since evolved to become much broader in meaning. Atypical pneumonia is now more widely used in reference to either pneumonia caused by a relatively common group of pathogens (Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Legionella spp, and Chlamydophila pneumoniae), or to a distinct clinical syndrome the existence of which is difficult to demonstrate. As such, the term atypical pneumonia as most widely used today is often inaccurate, potentially confusing, of dubious scientific merit, and unhelpful.
With the common aetiological definition of the term (ie, pneumonia caused by M pneumoniae, Legionella spp, or C pneumoniae), there is little reason to classify atypical pneumonia as unusual or abnormal. As such, the adjective atypical is inappropriate and inaccurate. M pneumoniae, Legionella spp, and C pneumoniae are not uncommon causes of community-acquired pneumonia in adults.
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Mycoplasma pneumoniae is responsible for the vast majority of atypical respiratory infections. However, only about 10% of patients who acquire mycoplasma will develop pneumonia.
Before modern diagnostic tests were available, researchers noticed that some pneumonias had different characteristics compared to “typical” pneumonias, such as: Caused slightly different symptoms than typical pneumonia, Appeared different on a chest X-ray than typical pneumonia or, Responded differently to antibiotics that were used for typical bacteria. They called these “atypical”.
Atypical pneumonia also tends to have milder symptoms than typical pneumonia.
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