Is it pneumonia or the flu?

How you can identify the key, life-saving differences
Plus, the one organ you NEED to protect when sickness strikes

Most people know that pneumonia is an infection that affects the lungs. But what you may not know is that pneumonia is also a risk factor for a major cardiac event—such as a heart attack or stroke. And your risk remains high for 90 days following diagnosis. So, to put it bluntly, pneumonia could kill you even after you’ve kicked the initial infection,

And researchers at Salt Lake City’s Intermountain Heart Institute recently discovered that one strain of the illness is particularly dangerous.

This study looked at nearly 5,000 patients, all hospitalized and diagnosed with pneumonia between January 2007 and May 2014. Researchers followed them for 90 days post-diagnosis to assess for risk of heart attacks, stroke, heart failure, and death.

Of these patients, roughly 80 percent had bacterial pneumonia—characterized by infection with bacterial pathogens, most commonly Streptococcus. And a little more than 20 percent had viral pneumonia, which, as the term suggests, is caused by viruses like the flu.

As it turns out, over a quarter of the patients suffered a major adverse cardiac event within the 90-day window following diagnosis. And patients with bacterial pneumonia faced a 60 percent higher risk than patients with viral forms of the illness.

The likely reason? Bacterial pneumonia triggers greater inflammation of the arteries. And as I’m always reminding you, inflammation is the true cause of heart attack and stroke.

So it’s important to catch bacterial pneumonia before the infection turns deadly.

How to tell when it’s more than the flu

A major challenge of cold and flu season is that it can be near impossible to distinguish between the flu and pneumonia. And in a lot of cases, pneumonia is a direct complication of flu infection. So telling the difference boils down to two key factors: symptom severity and duration.

When it comes to bacterial pneumonia, the main telltale symptom you’re looking for is cough. And not a dry, hacking cough either—but a productive cough with green, yellow, or even bloody sputum. Extremely high fever is also a given—especially in cases of bacterial pneumonia, where your temperature can skyrocket up to 105° F. Of course, you can also expect more general symptoms, like fatigue, chills, headache, and appetite loss.

In severe cases, you should seek immediate emergency care. These symptoms include:

• Blue-tinted lips or fingernails
• Confusion
• Gurgling in the throat
• Rapid breathing
• Sharp chest pains
• Shortness of breath

Also, people with weakened immune systems, heart disease or lung conditions, or people who were already sick before contracting pneumonia, have a higher risk of being hospitalized and should keep a close eye on their symptoms.

So how can you tell if it’s bacterial pneumonia, and not viral? Well the simple answer is, you can’t. But if you’ve been sick for several days already, and suddenly start to feel worse—with a fever over 102 degrees—that’s your cue to call your doctor.

Another shoddy vaccine to avoid

Obviously, timely treatment of bacterial pneumonia infections is key. And this is one case where antibiotics are completely appropriate. (Just remember—if you do take antibiotics, support your GI microbiome with a high-quality probiotic, like Dr. Ohirra’s line.)

But the real key is to prevent bacterial pneumonia in the first place. (This is particularly true in older adults with heart disease.) And this time of year, effective prevention means doing your best to avoid viral infections like the flu.

Let’s start with a word or two about vaccines. You already know my feelings about the flu shot—so I’ll spare you that rant today. But you may also be aware that there’s a dedicated pneumonia vaccine.

It’s designed to cover the 14 most common strains of bacterial pneumonia. But as always, there’s a catch. A couple of them, in fact.

For starters, data shows that a single shot of the pneumonia vaccine only generates antibodies for 75 percent of the adults who receive it. The other 25 percent remain unprotected.2

As a result, the CDC now recommends that adults receive two different shots. But there’s been debate over whether or not this new recommendation is worth the paper it’s written on.

If you ask me, that’s a perfectly fair question to ask. Especially when you consider that—like the flu shot—the pneumonia vaccine may not actually work in the first place.

A 2009 review of 22 studies and more than 100,000 subjects came to exactly this conclusion—with the higher quality trials exposing the vaccine as ineffective.3

But one thing is absolutely certain—that shot comes with side effects. And they range from mild (fever; chills; fatigue; headache; nausea; vomiting; and swelling, stiffness, soreness, or redness in the injection area) to severe (like acute allergic reaction).

Only you can decide if these are risks worth taking. But one thing is clear: Whether you decide to get the pneumonia vaccine or not, it takes more than a simple shot to effectively safeguard yourself against infection.

Injection-free ways to ironclad your immune system

In case you need a refresher, here’s my simple three-step strategy for winter wellness.

1. Eliminate sugar
2. Wash your hands regularly (with plain, old soap and water—NOT anti-bacterial soaps and gels)
3. Supplement with 1,000 mg of AHCC per day

For most healthy people, these steps will be enough to help you sail you through flu season unscathed. But if you’re older and already struggling with chronic illness, you’ll want more comprehensive daily immune support.

Why? Because as I’ve explained here before, immunosenescence—or as I call it, immunity rot—is a real phenomenon of aging. And it doesn’t just make you more vulnerable to colds, flu, and pneumonia. It raises your risk of deadly diseases like cancer, too.

As I mentioned on pages 4 and 7, you should already be taking10,000 IU of vitamin D3 and a high-quality probiotic every single day—both of which will help to keep an aging immune system firing on all cylinders.

But in addition, I also recommend the following:

Dimethylgycine HCl. This is a naturally occurring amino acid and antioxidant that can help optimize your immune responses. I recommend 250 mg, three times a day.
Larch tree extract. Larch tree extract contains arabinogalactins—polysaccharides that pack serious immune support. I recommend 216 mg, three times a day.
Maitake D-fraction.® This powerful mushroom extract may help support all of your immune system’s key players. I recommend 20 mg, three times a day.
Beta 1,3 glucan. These are sugars extracted from the cell walls of baker’s yeast. And clinical studies show that supplementing with beta 1,3 glucans offers crucial immune support. I recommend 70 mg, three times a day.
Olive leaf extract. Extracts from olive leaf deliver a long list of phytochemicals that may help keep your immune system primed. I recommend 100 mg, three times a day.
Astaxanthin. This free-radical fighting compound outperforms even the biggest stars in the antioxidant world. I recommend 4 mg per day.
A high-quality multivitamin. I recommend powdered multis that you can dissolve in water and drink. The truth is, capsules and tablets aren’t big enough to fit everything you need for optimal supplementation.

Of course, most of the ingredients I mentioned can be found online or at most grocery stores, pharmacies, or health supplement retailers. You can also search my website,, for my personal recommendations. Simply type each ingredient into the top right search bar.

Support your heart through cold season, too

Follow all of these steps, and your odds of infection with bacterial pneumonia will drop dramatically. But remember—sometimes, disaster strikes despite our best efforts.

I mentioned earlier the toll pneumonia can take on your heart health. So it’s particularly important to protect your cardiovascular health this time of year. Especially since bacterial pneumonia isn’t the only potential threat at your doorstep once temperatures drop…

As I explained in the November 2016 issue (“Warning: Winter weather can take a deadly toll on your heart”), colder climate constricts your blood vessels and sends blood pressure soaring—ultimately raising your risk of heart attack and stroke by as much as 20 percent.

Targeted cardiovascular support will strengthen your heart against any assaults winter might fling at you. So I urge you not to let another cold, dreary day pass without checking out my Ultimate Heart-Protection Protocol.

This protocol will tell you everything you need to know about preventing heart attacks and stroke, reducing your blood pressure, clearing deadly plaque from your arteries, and much more—quickly, easily, and without dangerous drugs or surgeries.

It’s life-saving information. So simply call 1-866-747-9421 and reference order code EOV3V100, or click here for more information or to enroll today.


  1. Intermountain Medical Center. “Bacterial pneumonia far more dangerous to the heart than viral pneumonia.” ScienceDaily, 12 November 2018.
  2. “Pneumococcal vaccine: Controversy over CDC recommendations.” Pharmacy Today. March 2016; Volume 22, Issue 3, Page 16.
  3. “Efficacy of pneumococcal vaccination in adults: a meta-analysis.” CMAJ. 2009 Jan 6; 180(1): 48–58.