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Oprah opens up to Ellen about her recent health scare

"Pneumonia is nothing to play with," she told Ellen DeGeneres.
/ Source: TODAY

Oprah Winfrey had a clear message for others after a recent health scare resulted in a rare break from her work.

"Pneumonia is nothing to play with, y'all,'' she said on Ellen DeGeneres' show Monday. "It is very serious."

Winfrey, 65, said she had just been cleared by her doctor a day earlier after having a tough stretch. Her experience called to mind TODAY's Savannah Guthrie, who spent last week at home with pneumonia.

"I came back from overseas and I thought I had a cold, but it wasn't a cold,'' Winfrey said. "I ended up in the emergency room and they said, 'You have pneumonia.'''

Winfrey was on antibiotics for a week but they weren't working, so she went to see a lung specialist.

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can cause mild to severe illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms include cough, fever and difficulty breathing.

"I said, 'I've got a little rattling,''' Winfrey said. "He puts a stethoscope here (on my chest), and I see the 'oh, (expletive)' face. It's like, oh, my, something's wrong with you. I could see it, he didn't hide it.

"He immediately said, 'You must cancel everything.' I've never canceled anything in my life. I work when I'm sick."

Winfrey, who said she had 18 vials of blood drawn for testing, went back to see her doctor a week later feeling better. It was hard to tell who was more relieved.

"When I walked in and I was better, he thanked me three times for getting better and said, 'Can I have a hug?''' Winfrey said. "I could tell that he was like, 'Not on my watch is this gonna happen.'''

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Health and wellness will be the theme of a nine-city tour that Winfrey will embark on in January to help motivate others to take better care of themselves.

She already learned her own lesson when it comes to pneumonia.

"Don't play with it,'' she said. "Get your flu shots and get your pneumonia shots, it's nothing to play with. It takes people out."

Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand rub also helps prevent pneumonia and other respiratory infections, the CDC says.