Elton John's Walking Pneumonia: What Is It? What's the Prognosis and Recovery?

Singer, songwriter, and pianist Elton John says he is suffering from walking pneumonia.
By on 02/19/2020 2:00 PM

Source: MedicineNet Health News

Many Elton John fans in New Zealand were heartbroken over the past weekend as Sir Elton John lost his voice mid-concert and needed help leaving the stage.

The 72-year-old singer, songwriter, and pianist told Auckland fans he was suffering from "walking pneumonia." This is an informal term for a mild form of the lung condition in which the patient can still function more or less as normal, despite fluid accumulation in the lungs and flu-like symptoms.

"I want to thank everyone who attended tonight's gig in Auckland," John wrote on Instagram after leaving the stage Sunday night. "I was diagnosed with walking pneumonia earlier today, but I was determined to give you the best show humanly possible. I played and sang my heart out, until my voice could sing no more. I'm disappointed, deeply upset and sorry. I gave it all I had. Thank-you so much for your extraordinary support and all the love you showed me during tonight's performance. I am eternally grateful. Love, Elton xx."

John briefly slumped earlier in the show, but was able to continue until he attempted to sing "Daniel." Unable to sing that song, he tearfully apologized to fans before he left the stage, the New Zealand Herald reported.

The illness also forced the flamboyant, energetic performer to cancel his remaining tour dates in the country, according to Fox News.

How Do You Know if You Have Walking Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an inflammation of the airspaces (alveoli; singular alveolus) in the lung most commonly caused by infections. Bacteria, viruses, or fungi (infrequently) can cause the infection. There are also a few noninfectious types of pneumonia that are caused by inhaling or aspirating foreign matter or toxic substances into the lungs, according to MedicineNet author .

Step one if you have pneumonia of any kind: Do not embark on a demanding international concert tour, especially if you are 72.

"Pneumonia is generally more serious when it affects older adults, infants and young children, those with chronic medical conditions, or those with weakened immune function," Dr. Stöppler said.

What Is the Treatment for Pneumonia?

Antibiotic medications are the treatment of choice for pneumonia caused by bacterial and fungal infections. The exact choice of medications depends on many factors, including the following:

  • The organism responsible for the infection
  • The likelihood that the organism is resistant to certain antibiotics
  • The patient's underlying health condition

About 80% of cases of pneumonia infections acquired outside hospitals (community-acquired pneumonia or CAP) can be managed at home with the patient taking oral antibiotics, Dr. Stöppler said.

Over-the-counter pain and fever-reducing medications may be recommended for some people in addition to antibiotics or antiviral drugs for symptom relief. Do not take cough or cold medications when suffering from pneumonia without a doctor's approval, Dr. Stöppler said.

Antibiotics are not effective against viral pneumonia, she said.

What Is the Prognosis for Walking Pneumonia?

Most people with pneumonia improve after three to five days of antibiotic treatment, but a mild cough and fatigue can last longer, up to a month. Patients who required treatment in a hospital may take longer to see improvement, Dr. Stöppler said.

Pneumonia can also be fatal. The mortality (death) rate is up to 30% for patients with severe pneumonia who require treatment in an intensive care unit. Overall, around 5%-10% of patients who are treated in a hospital setting die from the disease. Pneumonia is more likely to be fatal in the elderly or those with chronic medical conditions or a weakened immune system, Dr. Stöppler said.

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