Is Pneumonia As Scary As It Sounds?| What Puts You At Risk?

First Juan Gabriel, now Hillary Clinton, how do people catch pneumonia and how can you prevent this potentially fatal disease? Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs, which is caused by bacteria, a virus, or fungi. In many cases it starts with a cough and causes difficulties breathing. Pneumonia can be life threatening, especially if you have a weakened immune system or suffer from other chronic health problems.

According to Lisa BardaCk, MD, the former Secretary of State’s personal physician, Clinton was diagnosed with pneumonia after visiting her doctor during a follow-up evaluation of a prolonged cough related to allergies. She was put on antibiotics and was told to take some time off her busy schedule and rest, but she probably felt fine and this is why we saw Clinton at an outdoor memorial service for 9/11 victims at Ground Zero. Clinton was seen stumbling, probably because she stood in a crowd and out in the heat for about 90 minutes, which caused her to feel ill.

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Dr. Michael Niederman, MD, American Thoracic Society member and professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, explained to Health about what he suspects is happening to Clinton. The way pneumonia presents itself has a lot to do with a person’s overall health. Those that are in good physical condition, typically get classic symptoms, like fever, chills, chest pains, and shortness of breath. Elder patients who suffer from chronic conditions, may have different symptoms, such as confusion, weakness–without respiratory problems.

“You would think the people who look sickest are the ones who are the worst off, but it really is the opposite,” Dr. Niederman says. “The people who look sickest are having a good immune response to the infection.”