Mycoplasma pneumonia is a lung infection caused by the mycoplasma pneumoniae bacteria. This infection affects people of all ages, but it typically arises in school-aged children and people under age 40, according to MedlinePlus. Individuals who live or work in crowded areas have the highest risk of developing the infection, although the infection can appear in those without an identifiable risk. Signs and symptoms include chest pain, persistent cough, fever and/or a sore throat. Complications are rare, but it is important to know the risks.
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Middle Ear Infections
A common complication associated with mycoplasma pneumonia is a middle ear infection, according to the New York State Department of Health. Middle ear infections are common in early childhood and primarily affect children between 6 months and 2 years of age, according to MayoClinic.com. Ear infections can occur at any age, but children get them more frequently than adults. People with mycoplasma pneumonia may develop a middle ear infection when the middle ear lining becomes inflamed and fluid accumulates behind the eardrum. Signs and symptoms of a middle ear infection include an earache, high fever, ear drainage, loss of balance, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, temporary hearing loss, irritability, insomnia, a feeling of blockage in the ear and dizziness. Treatment generally consists of antibiotics, drainage tubes, over-the-counter medications and warm compresses. An untreated ear infection may result in a ruptured eardrum or hearing loss, so it is important to seek prompt medical care.
People who have mycoplasma pneumonia have an increased risk of developing hemolytic anemia, according to MedlinePlus. Hemolytic anemia occurs when the bone marrow is unable to produce enough red blood cells to replace the blood cells that were prematurely damaged. This condition may be caused by protein abnormalities or protein variances in hemoglobin, abnormal immune system responses, blood clots, infections or medication side effects, according to Medline Plus. Signs and symptoms of hemolytic anemia include chills, dark urine, enlarged spleen, fatigue, fever, pale skin color, accelerated heart rate, breathing difficulties and jaundice. Treatment generally consists of folic acid, iron replacement and corticosteroids or a blood transfusion.
A skin rash is a common complication associated with mycoplasma pneumonia. The journal "Infection" reports that people who are highly sensitive or allergic to the antibiotics commonly used to treat mycoplasma infection have an increased risk of developing an erythematous maculopapular rash -- a type of rash that consists of flat, red spots or small, raised bumps on the skin. Some people may experience this skin rash after taking amoxicillin or penicillin. Skin rashes typically improve once the antibiotic has been discontinued.
A serious complication associated with mycoplasma pneumonia is severe pneumonia, according to MedlinePlus. People with mycoplasma pneumonia may experience severe pneumonia as a result of a weakened immune system or an infection that is unresponsive to treatment. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that the elderly and people with a weakened immune system have the highest risk of developing severe pneumonia from a mycoplasma infection. People with severe pneumonia may experience respiratory failure, abscesses, bacteria in the blood, fluid accumulation in the lining of the lungs, a collapsed lung or, in severe cases, kidney damage.