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Health

Hillary Clinton’s Got Pneumonia, But What Exactly Does It Mean?

Hillary Clinton’s early departure from a 9/11 memorial at the World Trade Center in New York on Sunday led to an announcement by her doctor hours later that Clinton had been diagnosed with pneumonia two days earlier and was feeling “overheated and dehydrated” when she left the event.

A video taken at the memorial shows Clinton appearing to sway and stumble as she tries to get into a waiting van to exit the event.

Clinton’s campaign cancelled a two-day trip to California scheduled for Monday and Tuesday as questions about Clinton’s health continued. Here’s what you need to know about Clinton’s lung infection:

So What Is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a common lung infection caused by a virus, bacteria, or fungi that causes air sacs in the lungs to fill up with fluid and the lungs to become inflamed, according to the American Lung Association. The inflammation can persist for weeks, according to the World Health Organization.

Symptoms of pneumonia include cough, fever, shaking and chills, shortness of breath, head and chest pains, sweating, loss of appetite, and confusion, according to the ALA.

How Common Is It?

Pneumonia is a common complication of diseases like the flu, with the CDC reporting that more than 1 million Americans are hospitalized each year for pneumonia, and 50,000 Americans die from it each year. Adults over the age of 65 — like Clinton, who is 68 — and children under the age 5 are most at risk, as well as people with underlying medical conditions and those who smoke, according to the CDC.

In fact, pneumonia accounts for 15 percent of all deaths of children under 5 years old throughout the world, according to the World Health Organization. It is the single largest infectious disease killer of children worldwide, the WHO says.  And many of those childhood deaths, nearly 85 percent, occur in Africa and South Asia.

The illness can also be particularly dangerous for older adults. The CDC said that of the 53,000 people in the U.S. who died from pneumonia in 2013, the vast majority — 45,000 —were over the age of 65, according to ABC News.

How Is It Treated?

Vaccines against diseases like the flu, measles, pertussis, and pneumococcus can help prevent pneumonia.

A chest X-ray can help diagnose pneumonia once it is suspected, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Once diagnosed, antibiotics can help fight pneumonia, as well as rest, fluids, and fever-reducers. It may take more than three weeks to regain strength and well-being, according to the ALA.

It can take weeks for adults to recover from pneumonia. As of now, Clinton’s campaign has said she will skip two days of planned events to rest and recover.


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