Madonna’s grueling preparation for her epic 80-show world tour may have left her vulnerable to falling ill, doctors warned today after news broke that the 64-year-old icon was hospitalized with a ‘serious bacterial infection’.
The legendary hitmaker — whose chart-topping career has spanned four decades — is expected to make a ‘full recovery’ after being intubated in intensive care.
Details over the exact cause of the ‘Material Girl’ singer’s health scare have yet to be released by her family, who were left ‘preparing for the worst’.
They claimed the star believes she is ‘invincible’ and has ‘been wearing herself thin’ over the past few months to ensure her upcoming five-month tour of the US, Britain, Canada and Europe went perfectly.
Doctors today said it was possible Madonna’s punishing preparations — thought to involve rehearsing and exercising six days a week — may have worn her immune system down and left her vulnerable to infection. Any stress she may have faced due to the tour also ‘doesn’t help the picture’, they added.
Madonna had to be ‘rushed to the ICU and intubated’ on Saturday after developing a bacterial infection that resulted in a days-long hospital stay. She is seen in a June 20 Instagram photo
Dr Thomas Moore, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Kansas, (left) said it was possible that exhaustion had weakened her immune system. Dr Stuart Fischer, who has four years of experience on the medical wards in New York City, said it was possible that stress had impacted her immune system
Bacterial infections are usually mild, with their symptoms clearing naturally or with the added punch of antibiotics.
Yet they can pose a much more serious threat to those with a weakened immune system.
Dr Thomas Moore, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Kansas, said it was possible the singer was run down.
‘Exhaustion, certainly when you are run down, can be an issue,’ he said. ‘It is generally true that if you are very run down and not getting enough rest your immune system can be challenged.’
Madonna’s exercise routine may have actually worked against her, he said.
‘A vigorous workout [or lifestyle] is not inherently dangerous as long as you take care of yourself,’ Dr Moore added.
‘But say your immune system is challenged [by a bacteria], if you have been working too hard this makes it more difficult for it to respond and insults arise.’
Madonna’s partying lifestyle has also likely not helped matters, Dr Moore added.
‘Your body is designed to be taken care of, and with this it can do amazing things and achieve physical feats,’ he said.
‘But when you start to abuse your body with drugs or alcohol or stay awake for long periods when your brain wants you to go sleep, these can have an indirect effect on its ability to fight a viral infection.’
Exhaustion raises inflammation and stress levels in the body, which can suppress the number and function of immune cells making them less able to tackle infections.
Poor sleep also has an impact, leading to a decline in the number of immune cells in the body because it has less time to manufacture new ones.
Dr Stuart Fischer, an emergency doctor in New York City, said it was possible that stress had also weakened her immune defenses.
He said: ‘Any stress due to the concert doesn’t help the picture.
‘Stress is immunosuppressive. Her stress is from going on tour and fans waiting to see her. This could have an impact.’
Madonna’s manager added that the singer (seen on June 20) has been forced to postpone the start of her 40th Anniversary Celebration tour, which was slated to begin on July 15 in Canada
The 64-year-old pop icon’s manager Guy Oseary confirmed the news in an Instagram post on Wednesday, revealing that the star was still ‘under medical care’
It was also suggested that Madonna’s age, at 64 years, could also have been involved.
Dr Moore said: ‘As you age your immune cell function… begins to decline,’ he said. ‘The immune system also becomes less nimble.’
Both doctors wished Madonna well with her recovery, saying ‘thank goodness she is out of the woods’ and congratulating her for bringing generations happiness with her music.
WHAT IS SEPSIS?
Sepsis, known as the ‘silent killer’, strikes when an infection such as blood poisoning sparks a violent immune response in which the body attacks its own organs.
It is the leading cause of avoidable death, killing at least 44,000 a year, and the Daily Mail has long campaigned for more awareness.
If caught early, the infection can be controlled by antibiotics before the body goes into overdrive – ultimately leading to death within a matter of minutes.
But the early symptoms of sepsis can be easily confused with more mild conditions, meaning it can be difficult to diagnose.
Sepsis has similar symptoms to flu, gastroenteritis and a chest infection.
- Slurred speech or confusion
- Extreme shivering or muscle pain
- Passing no urine in a day
- Severe breathlessness
- It feels like you are dying
- Skin mottled or discolored
Symptoms in children are:
- Fast breathing
- Fits or convulsions
- Mottled, bluish or pale skin
- Rashes that do not fade when pressed
- Feeling abnormally cold
Madonna is well-known for her ‘punishing’ fitness regime, which sees her exercise six times a week with a personal trainer to maintain her ‘dancer’s physique’.
The singer, who is known for being a perfectionist, has also had a six-day working week since April to gear up for her shows, those close to the star revealed.
Lee Mitchell, a personal trainer at www.jogger.co.uk, told MailOnline that Madonna’s intense exercise routine may have contributed to her unspecified illness.
He noted that her workout plan — which includes strength training, cardio exercises and Pilates — can ‘yield positive results when appropriately managed’.
But he cautioned that ‘it is crucial to strike a balance between pushing physical limits and allowing for adequate recovery’.
Mr Mitchell said: ‘Intense exercise can temporarily suppress the immune system due to various factors, such as increased stress hormones, elevated levels of inflammation and oxidative stress.
‘Pushing the body beyond its limits may lead to physical exhaustion, compromised immune function, hormonal imbalances and increased susceptibility to infections.’
He noted that it is ‘challenging to definitively attribute her health situation to her extreme exercise routine alone’.
Mr Mitchell added: ‘It is possible that other factors — such as her overall health, immune system, stress levels or lifestyle choices — may have contributed to her current condition.
‘It serves as a reminder that even highly trained individuals should listen to their bodies, prioritize recovery and seek professional guidance to ensure long-term health and wellbeing.’
One of Madonna’s family members has told DailyMail.com that the shocking collapse was a wake-up call for Madonna, who believes she is ‘invincible’ and has been pushing herself extremely hard to prepare for the tour.
They said: ‘She has not been living as healthy a life as she should be for her age, and she has been wearing herself thin over the past couple of months.
‘She thinks that she is still young when, in fact, she is not. She also believes that she is invincible.’
It is currently unclear exactly what infection or complications the Michigan-born singer is suffering from.
But bacterial infections can affect various parts of the body, including the skin, lungs and blood.
Madonna posted this image of herself with her children in 2017. From left, Rocco, David Banda, Mercy James and front, Lourdes and twins Stelle and Estere
The singer has three sisters and three surviving brothers – her older brother Anthony, 66, died in February. In this 2021 photo, she is seen with their father Silvio, now 92. From left: Paula, Madonna, Jennifer and Melanie
While most bacteria are harmless, some can enter the body through an opening in the skin — such as a cut, insect bite or surgical wound. Others get into the body via the airways, eating contaminated food or through sex.
Antibiotics, which can come in pill, liquid, cream or IV form, are used to treat such infections.
While most cases are mild, some untreated bacterial infections can lead to serious complications, such as sepsis.
It occurs when the immune system, which helps fight off infections, overreacts to an infection and starts attacking the body’s tissues and organs.
Professor Robert Read, chair of infectious diseases at the University of Southampton, told DailyMail.com that being under psychosocial stress increases the risk of sepsis and its severity. However, he noted that it is not fully understood why this is the case.
Surgery can be another trigger of bacterial infections.
Madonna seemed to admit to undergoing cosmetic surgery this year after she looked almost unrecognizable while presenting an award at the 2023 Grammy’s in February.
Leading plastic surgeons said at the time that she may have had ‘excessive filler’, Botox, a facelift and nose job, as her skin appeared ‘tight and pulled back’.
Later that month, the singer posted a picture of herself on Twitter stating that her ‘swelling from surgery has gone down’.
It is unclear if she has undergone any further cosmetic procedures.
But any surgery that breaks the skin can lead to an infection, usually within 30 days of an operation.
They are usually caused by bacteria infecting the wound through touch from a contaminated medic or surgical instrument or germs in the air or already on the body that spread to the wound.
The singer is also famed for her intense partying lifestyle and has been pictured in nightclubs and parties and was previously hailed as the ‘nightlife queen’ in the 1990s.
Decades of drinking alcohol are known to hamper health.
One recent study by Oxford University researchers found that drinking alcohol can increase the risk of developing 60 ailments, including infections.
Madonna’s health scare was shared with the world by her long-time manager Guy Oseary, who revealed on Instagram that Madonna has been forced to postpone her hotly-anticipated 40th-anniversary tour as a result of her medical struggles.
Oseary insisted in his post that the singer is ‘expected to make a full recovery’ and that her ‘health is improving’, but added that she is ‘still under medical care’.
While Madonna used to play tours featuring around 40 shows earlier in her career, she has upped her commitments in recent years and has performed twice as many.
On her most recent Madame X tour, Madonna performed 75 dates from September 2019 until March 2020 and put her ‘blood, sweat and tears’ into the performances.
Jose Extravaganza, a dancer who used to work with Madonna, told how the star had been exercising ‘a lot’ ahead of the tour.
He told DailyMail.com: ‘I think she’s exercising a lot. I mean, the rehearsals. Rehearsals are six days a week from what I hear, you know, like the only day off is Sunday.’
Mr Extravaganza also revealed how Madonna had planned to incorporate her love of boxing and fitness into her concerts by bringing martial arts into her upcoming shows, showing how important fitness is in the star’s life.
The star was previously forced to cancel more than a dozen shows during her 2019 and 2020 The Madame X Tour after injuring her coccyx on stage.
She wrote on Instagram at the time: ‘If only knees didn’t twist and cartilage didn’t tear and nothing hurt and tears never fell out of our eyes.
‘But alas they do and thank god for this important reminder that we are human.’
Madonna was left on crutches for ten months following the injury and operation she underwent and other ‘physical challenges’, she said at the time.
As the Covid pandemic put the final nail in her tour’s coffin, Madonna decided to undergo knee surgery in April 2020 followed by hip surgery in November 2020 as well as ‘regenerative treatment for missing cartilage’.