When presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently became ill at a public event, we learned that she is battling pneumonia.
Where does pneumonia come from?
According to Jason Turowski, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, pneumonia is actually pretty rare, and typically develops after the body has been infected with a virus.
“The most common cause of pneumonia is a virus, like influenza, and then your body is trying to fight it off and actually bugs that we have in our body – the most common being staph and strep and pneumococcus – those kind of things, can cause a secondary pneumonia,” said Dr. Turowski.
Dr. Turowski said often times when the body is under a lot of stress, it can lower the immune system’s ability to fight infections, making it easy to pick up a virus that can then lead to complications.
Don’t ignore the symptoms
People with pneumonia usually complain of flu-like symptoms, including fever and chills and are diagnosed when a chest x-ray shows white opaque spots on the lungs.
Pneumonia is treated with a course of antibiotics and also requires a good deal of rest and plenty of fluids.
Anyone can get pneumonia, although infants, those over the age of 65 and folks with compromised immune systems are most susceptible to developing complications from it.
Dr. Turowski said the symptoms are not subtle and usually over-the-counter medications will not provide any relief. He said it’s important not to ignore symptoms, because although pneumonia can seem like a cold or a flu in the beginning, it is much more serious and can even be life-threatening.
Prevention is key
Dr. Turowski said there are steps that we can take towards prevention of pneumonia.
“The flu shot itself is probably the best way to avoid getting the influenza-based pneumonias, but it does take upwards of two weeks for the flu shot to be effective, so right now when you’re feeling okay, get vaccinated,” said Dr. Turowski.
For young children and adults over 65 there is a pneumococcal vaccine that helps protect against bacterial pneumonia.