Michael Schumacher Battling Pneumonia, Doctors Say

Formula One champion Michael Schumacher has reportedly developed pneumonia while still in a medically-induced coma. Doctors are treating the skier with strong antibiotics while still trying to bring him safely out of the coma he has been in since Dec. 29.

"Pneumonia is generally a serious and dangerous disease because the body is supplied with less oxygen and is overall very weakened," Professor Heinzpeter Moecke told German media. "One reason may be that the patient cannot cough up secretions, which form in the neck and throat because of a tube in the windpipe through which he breathes. A healthy person clears his throat or swallowing several times per minute, usually without realizing it. That protects the lungs."

(Photo: Reuters/Tim Chong)Mercedes Formula One driver Michael Schumacher of Germany arrives for the third practice session of the Singapore F1 Grand Prix at the Marina Bay street circuit in Singapore September 24, 2011.

Moecke assured fans that Schumacher was feeling no pain or shortness of breath. Schumacher is still in a medically-induced coma and receiving the necessary medication he needs while his body continues to heal. Doctors have recently tried to see if they can wake him up safely, but so far nothing has been successful. Schumacher still requires feeding through a tube in his stomach, oxygen from a ventilator, and is routinely turned over and moved in order to allow blood flow throughout the body.

Once doctors determine the type of pneumonia Schumacher is battling, they will be better able to treat the infection.

"Often the drug is administered over a seven to ten day period," Moecke said. "If it works, there is a significant improvement after three or four days and the patient is out of danger. But there are also bacteria that are resistant to many antibiotics, that extends the period of danger."

Schumacher fell and hit his head on a rock while on the Meribel slopes. Family and friends have been by his bedside since he was hospitalized and his wife recently spent an extended period of time trying to see if she could help wake him, with no effect.