Mycoplasma are part of the normal flora of the human oral cavity and the genital tract. However, certain species of mycoplasma, such as Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Mycoplasma hominis, can penetrate the blood and tissue barrier, especially in individuals with reduced immunity, to cause sinusitis, pneumonia, pelvic inflammatory disease, and kidney infections. According to the New York Times Health Guide, mycoplasma sp. are responsible for 15 to 50 percent of all pneumonia cases in adults and even more in school-aged children. Many mild mycoplasma infections are self-limiting, however, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat severe infections.
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The diagnosis of illnesses involving mycoplasma are often difficult because special tests and cultures are required to specifically isolate this microorganism. Hence, broad-spectrum antibiotics that are effective against a variety of bacteria are prescribed. Tetracyclines and macrolides, such as erythromycin and roxithromycin, should be included in the treatment regimen for pneumonia, genital tract infections and pelvic inflammatory disease, especially if mycoplasma infection is suspected. In an article published in the November 1997 edition of the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Dr. David Taylor-Robinson recommends ketolides and newer quinolones to treat mycoplasma infections as they have greater activity and unlike tetracyclines and macrolides, which act by preventing the multiplication of mycoplasma, ketolides and quinolones have the ability to kill the microorganism.
Antibiotics are often prescribed for two to three weeks due to the inability of most antibiotics to kill mycoplasma, which may increase the chances of a relapse. The route of administration is, usually, oral. However, Dr. David Taylor-Robinson suggests in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy that individuals with immunodeficiency diseases should be given the most inhibitory antibiotic intravenously.
Common side effects of these antibiotics include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite.
The New York Times Health Guide recommends fluids along with rest, as part of home care to treat mycoplasma infections. Consumption of large amounts of fluids can help treat the infections by draining out the bacteria from the respiratory or the genitourinary tracts. Fluids may be given orally or intravenously depending on the condition of the patient.
According to the UK-based Morgellons Research Foundation, certain mycoplasma species can either activate or suppress host immune systems, and they may use these activities to evade host immune responses. Diet rich in proteins can help improve the immune system, thereby, increasing the ability of the body to fight various infections including those caused by mycoplasmas.
- New York Times Health Guide: Mycoplasma pneumonia
- "Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy"; Antibiotic susceptibilities of mycoplasmas and treatment of mycoplasmal infections; D Taylor-Robinson and C Bebear; November 1997
- Morgellons-UK: The pathogenisis and treatment of mycoplasma infections