Mycoplasma refers to a type of bacteria that is capable of infecting various parts of the human body. Different types of it affect different parts of the body; for example, the one infecting the lungs won’t be the same as the one infecting the urinary tract. What sets Mycoplasma apart from other types of bacteria is that these do not come with a cell wall. Additionally, these are very tiny in size as compared to other types of bacteria.
Antibiotics are prescribed to kill bacterial growth, and these do that by targeting and weakening the cell walls of the bacteria. The Mycoplasma antibiotics like Penicillin would not work because of the fact that these do not have a cell wall, to begin with.
Serious Types of Mycoplasma to be Concerned About
There exist about 200 various types of bacteria Mycoplasma, but the good news is that most of these are benign in nature. The types that can harm you are the ones below:
- Mycoplasma pneumoniae
- Mycoplasma genitalium
- Mycoplasma hominis
- Ureaplasma urealyticum
- Ureaplasma parvum
Sometimes also known as walking pneumonia, Mycoplasma pneumoniae is an atypical type of pneumonia. It is highly contagious in nature respiratory illness that can spread from one person to the other through respiratory droplets that escape from the mouth and nose of an infected person while coughing and sneezing.
Mycoplasma pneumoniae gets transmitted from one person to another even more in crowded places like colleges, schools, etc. It also has the ability to become an epidemic. Around one-fifth of all infections, related lungs are caused by the Mycoplasma pneumoniae. Aside from pneumonia, it can cause sore throat, tracheobronchitis or chest colds, and ear infections.
Developing a dry cough is one of its main symptoms. Treating it early on is important as if left untreated, it can be harmful to the brain, the heart, the kidneys, the skin and can even prove to be fatal. Its most common symptoms are:
- Sore throat
The following antibiotics are prescribed for Mycoplasma pneumoniae
- Tetracyclines such as doxycycline
- Macrolides like azithromycin (Zithromax) or erythromycin (Erythrocin)
Recommended Post: Your Handy Guide to Mycoplasma pneumonia
2. Mycoplasma genitalium
Mycoplasma genitalium or Mgen is a bacteria that lives in the cells of the skin in the genitals and the urinary tract. It is a Sexually Transmitted Disease meaning it is spread from an infected person to a healthy one through sex. A lot of people do not experience any symptoms. However, women may experience the following symptoms of Mycoplasma genitalium:
- Painful sex
- Bleeding after sex
- Vaginal discharge
For men the following symptoms are common:
- Inflammation of the Urethra also known as Urethritis
- A burning sensation while urinating
- Discharge oozing out of the penis
The diagnosis of Mycoplasma genitalium is done via the nucleic acid amplification test or NAAT, which looks for the genes of the bacteria. A sample of the semen or the first pee of the morning is taken for men, while for women, a swab sample is taken from the genital area like the cervix, vagina, or the urethra.
The doctor will prescribe the following antibiotics for treating Mycoplasma genitalium.
- Macrolides like azithromycin (a single dose of Zithromax)
- Tetracyclines such as doxycycline
- fluoroquinolones such as moxifloxacin (Avelox).
The transfer of Mycoplasma genitalium can be prevented by the use of condoms during sex. To help the doctor treat the infection in a better way, your partner also needs to get tested. The drugs prescribed sometimes do not work, in which case, the doctor will prescribe another type of medication.
3. Mycoplasma hominis
Mycoplasma hominins is found in the genitals and the urinary tract and affect mostly women as compared to men. If your immune system is weak, then you might get this infection, but other than that, there is no need to worry as this bacteria does not cause an infection that commonly.
Mycoplasma hominis is transferred from one person to another by having sex with an infected person and can also be spread from an infected pregnant mother to the baby during delivery. It may also be the culprit behind developing PID or pelvic inflammatory disease in women. Pregnant women may suffer the following problems if they get infected with this bacteria.
- Risk of Ectopic pregnancy
- The risk of miscarriage
- Risk of early birth
Mycoplasma hominis might also cause a newborn to have a fever along with the infection.
The diagnosis of Mycoplasma hominis is done by taking a sample from the urethra or the vagina. Treatment is done with the help of tetracycline, such as doxycycline. The best way to prevent the transmission of Mycoplasma hominis is by the use of condoms during sex and avoiding having multiple sexual partners.
4. Ureaplasma urealyticum & Ureaplasma parvum
These live in the vagina or cervix and urethra of both healthy women and men. Mostly these do not cause any issues. Ureaplasma is transmittable through having sex with an infected individual. It can also be spread from an infected pregnant mother to the baby before birth or during delivery.
Some common symptoms experienced by women are:
- A stinging feeling while urinating
- Pain in the abdominal area
- Inflammation of the urethra
- Discharge coming from the urethra
- Foul smell, pain, and discharge from the vagina
Men who are infected by these bacteria experience swelling of the urethra, also known as Urethritis. If a pregnant woman has the infection, it can negatively affect the health of both the mother and the baby. Some signs and symptoms that are experienced by the infected pregnant women are:
- The low weight of the infant at birth
- Septicemia or the presence of bacteria in the blood
The diagnosis of a ureaplasma infection is done by taking a sample of the following:
- Amniotic fluid
- Placental tissue
In order to treat the infection, the doctor will prescribe the following antibiotics:
- Tetracyclines such as doxycycline
- Macrolides like azithromycin
Other than these fluoroquinolones such as moxifloxacin can also be prescribed. If a woman gets infected with the bacteria after conceiving, the baby also needs to get a dose of antibiotics.
FAQ Related to Mycoplasma
What is mycoplasma infection?
The mycoplasma infection is caused by a tiny type of bacteria known as Mycoplasma pneumoniae. It targets the respiratory system of the body.
Who gets mycoplasma infection?
The infection can affect just about anyone, but it is most commonly seen to affect young adults along with older children.
When do mycoplasma infections occur?
Mycoplasma infections usually occur intermittently all through the year. However, it is most commonly seen during the fall and late summertime. The community outbreak of the infection is also possible.
How is mycoplasma spread?
Mycoplasma is spread through coming in contact with the respiratory droplets of an infected person. These droplets are spread when they sneeze or cough and contain the bacteria. When a healthy person inhales these droplets or comes in contact with them by touching infected surfaces and then touching their face, it can spread. Mycoplasma needs prolonged periods of contact with an infected person for it to spread. The rate of spread in schools, families, etc. takes place very slowly. The spread period is usually ten days, but it can also last longer than that.
What are the symptoms of mycoplasma infection?
The most common symptoms of Mycoplasma infection are fever, bronchitis, cough, fatigue, sore throat, and headache. A mild form of pneumonia known as walking pneumonia can also be experienced. Walking pneumonia is milder than full-blown pneumonia, which does not require being hospitalized. Other than that, ear infections are also its symptoms. The time period for these signs and symptoms to be experienced can take from a few days to even months.
How soon after exposure do symptoms appear?
It usually takes two to three weeks for the symptoms to show after getting exposed to the infection. However, it can also take from one week to four weeks.
How is mycoplasma infection diagnosed?
Mycoplasma is diagnosed according to the symptoms that are exhibited by the infected person and also through an X-ray of the chest area. In addition to that, blood tests may also be done.
- What is the treatment for mycoplasma infection?
Infections related to Mycoplasma go away on their own without any medical intervention, that is when the symptoms are milder. In case of severe symptoms, a Mycoplasma infection is treated with the help of antibiotics like azithromycin, clarithromycin, or erythromycin.
What can be done to prevent the spread of Mycoplasma?
In the absence of a vaccine for preventing the spread of mycoplasma infection along with any measures for its control, the only thing that can be done to prevent its spread is by maintaining good hand hygiene and also covering the mouth while sneezing and coughing. As Mycoplasma is a respiratory illness preventing its transmission by washing or sanitizing your hands and covering your mouth while coughing or sneezing seems to be the only way it can be controlled.
Does past infection with Mycoplasma make a person immune?
Getting infected with Mycoplasma once does make a person immune to getting it again, but it is not always 100 percent. How long does the immunity period last is still unknown, but a person can get infected again but with much milder signs.
- Complications & Diagnosis: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Symptoms: Healthline.com & Medical News Today