TIME pneumonia

Hillary Clinton Has Pneumonia. Here’s What it Means

What to know about the common infection

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has pneumonia, according to a statement from her doctor, and the common illness has caused her to cancel a trip to California. The diagnosis came to light after Clinton left a 9/11 memorial ceremony in New York City and a video suggesting she was having difficulty standing surfaced online.

But what does a pneumonia diagnosis mean?

Pneumonia is a common disease that’s characterized by an infection in the lungs. A diagnosis tends to be more serious for people over age 65 as well as infants and young children, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. People who already have compromised health, like heart failure or HIV may be at a higher risk. Smokers are also more likely to become sick from pneumonia. There are vaccines that can lower a person’s risk for the illness.

What are the symptoms?

Pneumonia can be mild, severe, or anything in between. Milder symptoms can include a cough, chills, fever, and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, people may experience sharp pains, excessive sweating and sometimes confusion.

How is it treated?

Treatment can depend on how severe a person’s symptoms are. In Clinton’s case, her physician Dr. Lisa R. Bardack said in a statement that Clinton, “was put on antibiotics, and advised to rest and modify her schedule.” Hydration is important for someone with pneumonia. Bardack said Clinton became overheated and dehydrated at the event and now she is re-hydrated “recovering nicely.” Rest is also key to a pneumonia recovery plan, according to the American Lung Association.

How serious is the illness?

It’s estimated that every year there are around 1 million people who seek hospital care for pneumonia, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but there are more people who will catch pneumonia and not need hospital treatment. The illness is considered common, and is caused by a wide variety of bacterias or viruses that can inflame air sacs in a person’s lungs. People who are young and healthy can also come down with a bout of pneumonia as well.

What is walking pneumonia?

The type of pneumonia Clinton has is unknown. But walking pneumonia is a very common type of the disease that does not require a hospital stay. People with walking pneumonia, which is often caused by a bacteria called Mycoplasma pneumoniae, often feel well enough to go about their daily activities and work. It may feel like they have a bad cold or a case of the flu. Anyone can contract walking pneumonia, which can be more frequent in the late summer and early fall, and people who work in crowded places are thought to be at a higher risk for getting it.

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