After helping Fleetwood Mac become one of the best-selling musical groups of all time alongside singer Christine McVie and the group’s male memes, Stevie went on to success as a solo artist, with hits like Edge of Seventeen and Stop Draggin’ My Heart. About. Despite all of her successes, in old age Stevie has had to be careful about where she performs and how many shows she can physically do. Most recently, in August 2021, the singer pulled out of several shows across America due to COVID-19 fears. At the time, the singer released a statement saying, “My main goal is to stay healthy so I can continue singing for the next decade or more. These are tough times with tough decisions that need to be made. One of the reasons the Arizona-born singer needs to take better care of her health is that she was suffering from double pneumonia.
The night she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the second time, Stevie “knew something was wrong.”
In a revealing interview with Variety in October 2020, Stevie reflected on the night her health took a frightening turn.
She said, “I knew before I went on stage that something was wrong, so I really had to pull it together. The next day I got very sick and ended up going to the Philadelphia hospital for a week in intensive care with double pneumonia and asthma.
“And talk about your falling oxygen levels – my oxygen levels were barely there. If I had to use a ventilator… My mum was on a ventilator for a month and she was hoarse for the rest of her life.
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The British Lung Foundation explains that pneumonia is a type of lung infection that affects the “little air sacs” in your lungs, called the alveoli.
Pneumonia causes these air sacs to become inflamed and filled with fluid, making it harder to breathe. The term “double pneumonia” is used when the disease affects both lungs.
Although there are different causes of pneumonia (Johns Hopkins Medicine states there are more than 30), the most common cause is community-acquired pneumonia.
This is when pneumonia affects someone who is not already hospitalized and is caused by bacteria known as Streptococcus pneumoniae. This usually happens when the body is weakened in some way, such as by disease, poor diet, old age or impaired immunity, and bacteria are able to force their way into the lungs .
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Community-acquired pneumonia is much less contagious than the flu or cold because most people’s immune systems can kill the bacteria that cause it before they cause an infection.
Other types of community-acquired pneumonia include:
- Nosocomial pneumonia – the disease develops when people are hospitalized
- Viral pneumonia – common causes include the flu.
- Aspiration pneumonia – the condition is caused by food going downhill the wrong way or by inhaling vomit and other harmful substances.
- Fungal pneumonia – a rare form in the UK caused by fungi.
Due to the double pneumonia she suffered in 2019, Stevie was instantly more cautious when it came to avoiding COVID-19.
Addressing her vulnerability to the virus in the same interview with Variety, she added, “It’s a virus. It doesn’t matter which side you are on. It will kill you. And I said if I catch it, it’ll kill me. I have weakened lungs. I was really sick last year.
“This virus will never go away unless the whole world steps in and starts wearing their masks and doing whatever you have to do. It’s like a crawling mushroom.
“And it’s going to keep us all locked up in our homes and it’s not going to help the economy. No one will ever be able to really get back to work fully, and nothing will ever be the same again unless we can get our hands on this thing.
Johns Hopkins Medicine explains that anyone can be at risk for pneumonia, but the following groups are most at risk:
- Adults 65 and over
- Children under two years old
- People with certain medical conditions
- People who smoke.
The main symptoms of community-acquired pneumonia to look out for are a cough that regularly brings up mucus, high temperature, difficulty breathing, chest pain or discomfort, and loss of appetite.
In some more severe cases, people may experience the following:
- Low energy and extreme fatigue
- Bluish color of lips and fingernails
- Confused mental state or delirium
- fast pulse
- Nausea and vomiting.
In order to receive a proper diagnosis and the necessary treatment, individuals will need to consult a medical professional. This usually involves a chest exam and X-ray to distinguish between pneumonia and a lung infection.
Due to the severity of the disease, it is important to get treatment quickly. Treatment depends on the type of pneumonia you have, but in most cases it can be treated at home using antibiotics.
Other possible treatments may include proper diet, increased fluid intake, rest, oxygen therapy, pain medication, fever control, and cough suppressants if the individual’s cough is particularly severe.