If you’re like many people who have had a cold or sinus problem that won’t go away, or have suffered through seemingly endless ailments, it's likely you've had an atypical bacterial infection.
Specialist George Martin, head of the Department of Allergy and Asthma at Lankenau Medical Center in Philadelphia, states that atypical bacterial infections may be responsible for the endless bombardment of ailments that some suffer through during the fall and winter seasons.
“The most common one of them is Mycoplasma Pneumoniae Infection," Martin told WTXF News.
Mycoplasma Pneumonia is a contagious infection that affects the respiratory system, according to Healthline. The bacterium, also called Mycoplasma Pneumonia, is the most common of all human pathogens.
"[It] is a bacteria that acts more like a virus," Martin said.
Although most cases of the infection are mild, it can become severe and damage the heart or central nervous system. Those with respiratory ailments, asthma or allergies tend to catch the infection more often.
But for those without the aforementioned respiratory problems, why does the infection keep coming back?
“Your central nervous system could be affected -- headache, inability to concentrate, gastrointestinal as well as respiratory symptoms, sinusitis for long periods of time," Martin said.
It can be difficult to diagnosis because it has few distinguishable symptoms, which tend to be the same as those stemming from a typical upper respiratory tract infection. The most common sign of infection is a dry cough, although fever and malaise can also be observed.
"Are doctors maybe missing this?” Martin inquired. “Not so much that they're missing it but maybe not being treated as aggressively as one would like."
In the early stages, the body may not reveal an infection as the bacterium can develop anywhere throughout the body for several weeks. In order to make a diagnosis, a doctor needs to observe a patient's breathing with a stethoscope to check for abnormalities.
The risk of contracting Mycoplasma Pneumonia increases in the fall and winter months, especially in schools, daycare centers and other places where people work closely together.
In adults, the infection is typically treated with antibiotics, such as doxycycline, tetracycline and quinolones, and in children, macrolides are typically used, such as erythromycin, clarithromycin, roxithromycin and azithromycin.