Hillary Clinton’s pneumonia diagnosis puts spotlight on illness
Hillary Clinton has pneumonia, her doctor revealed in a statement Sunday, hours after the Democratic presidential nominee left a 9/11 commemoration event early.
“Secretary Clinton has been experiencing a cough related to allergies,” read Dr. Lisa Bardack’s statement. “On Friday, during follow-up evaluation of her prolonged cough, she was diagnosed with pneumonia. She was put on antibiotics, and advised to rest and modify her schedule.”
So what is pneumonia, what are the risk factors, and what do physicians recommend for a successful recovery?
What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a common infection that causes inflammation in one or more parts of your lungs. Pneumonia may be caused by either a bacteria or virus. It affects people differently depending on age, general health and the type of bacteria or virus. About 1 million Americans seek hospital care annually because of the illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Symptoms vary from mild to severe and often include coughing, fever, chills and shortness of breath.
“Clinton’s age puts her at higher risk for both getting pneumonia and getting sicker now that she has pneumonia,” says Dr. Tony Hampton, a family medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group. “The very young and those over 65 are at increased risk.”
Risk factors for pneumonia:
While Mrs. Clinton’s doctor did not reveal which type of pneumonia the candidate has, Dr. Hampton says among adults, conditions that increase the risk of invasive pneumococcal disease, one common type of pneumonia, include:
- Decreased immune function, including from stress or lack of sleep
- Exposure to ill individuals (shaking hands, nursing home visits, etc.)
- Cigarette smoking, or exposure to cigarette smoke
- Chronic heart, lung, liver or renal disease
Excessive talking may lead to drying of airway passages increasing the risks of respiratory infection, Dr. Hampton adds.
Recovery from pneumonia:
Antibiotics can be used to treat pneumonia caused by bacteria, and most people see improvement within two to three days.
Dr. Hampton also recommends:
- Drinking plenty of fluids, which dilutes mucous production and keeps you hydrated
- Eating a well-balanced diet
- Sitting in a chair and walking moderately, which generally promote good lung health
- Reducing work and getting adequate rest, without which the condition may worsen
A pneumonia vaccine is also available, which Dr. Hampton recommends to most people over age 65 as a way to reduce the risk of getting pneumonia.
At 68 years old, Mrs. Clinton falls into a category that puts her at increased risk for complications, but her doctor said yesterday she is re-hydrated and “recovering nicely.” Dr. Bardack has repeatedly affirmed Mrs. Clinton’s health and fitness for the presidency.
About the Author
Adam Mesirow, health enews managing editor, is media relations director of Advocate Aurora Health. Securing high-profile media placements for more than a decade, he loves to tell a good story. Adam earned a Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Michigan. He lives in Chicago and enjoys playing sports, reading TIME magazine and a little nonsense now and then.