Written by Joel Engardio for Doctor On Demand

Be in the Know about Pneumonia

The video of Hillary Clinton collapsing on the campaign trail and her diagnosis of pneumonia put the lung infection in the news. Do the demands of your daily schedule at work, school and home feel just as exhausting as running for president?

Whether you’re trying to lead the country or a PTA meeting, there are steps you can take to stay healthy and avoid being sidelined by pneumonia.

What is pneumonia?
It’s an infection of the lungs that most commonly caused by bacteria or a virus. You may have heard of terms like “walking pneumonia” or “double pneumonia.” The “walking” variety is a milder form of pneumonia. “Double” is a more severe case where both the right and left lobes of the lung are infected.

How do you get it?
Your chances of getting pneumonia increase during cold and flu season when you encounter more sick people and your immune system is weak from not taking care of yourself with proper rest. The symptoms of pneumonia can mimic the cold or flu while escalating to a persistent cough, fever, difficulty breathing and increased sputum production (coughing up gunk).

Tips to avoid pneumonia

  • Get a flu shot. The flu virus can also cause pneumonia.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Children under 5 and adults over 65 should get the pneumococcal vaccine because pneumonia most severely affects the young and old. If you smoke, have a heart condition, or diabetes, you will need the vaccine sooner. There are two types of this vaccine and a Doctor On Demand physician can help you determine which is best for you.
  • Stop smoking. The damage from cigarette smoke makes your lungs more prone to infection.


  • Pneumonia caused by bacteria is treated with antibiotics.
  • Antibiotics cannot treat pneumonia caused by a virus. But there are antiviral medicines that can help alleviate the symptoms if the pneumonia was the result of the flu.

How Doctor On Demand can help
Doctor On Demand physicians can help you determine if you are at risk for developing pneumonia and next steps if you are having symptoms. It’s also important to check with a doctor when you have the cold of flu to ensure you are taking the right steps to avoid the risk of a secondary infection. Doctor On Demand provides expert treatment for busy people. See our board-certified and US-based doctors anytime, anywhere for care you can trust.