Is “walking pneumonia” a serious health concern for a presidential candidate? Based on the description provided by the Mayo Clinic it seems to be of little concern. They provide that, “[w]alking pneumonia is an informal term for pneumonia that isn’t severe enough to require bed rest or hospitalization.” They describe symptoms of such little consequence that people will often forgo seeing a doctor, and that doctors often fail to perform the chest x-ray that would reveal the bacterial infection in the event that someone did go to get their symptoms checked, simply because the symptoms are not severe. Once properly diagnosed, walking pneumonia is easily treated with antibiotics.
This doesn’t sound like something that should have any serious impact on a presidential campaign. Some argue though that the fact that Mrs. Clinton hid her condition further reinforces the narrative that she is dishonest. True, she didn’t mention the diagnosis until after her overheating event on Sunday, but as reported by The New York Times (and others) she was not actually diagnosed until Friday. She had been attributing her cough to allergies, and understanding how common it is for both patients and doctors to misdiagnose this type of pneumonia it is entirely plausible and reasonable to believe that she truly thought her cough was due to allergies. If we assume that her diagnosis was accompanied by treatment – which is also perfectly plausible and reasonable to assume – and we know that this type of pneumonia is easily treated once diagnosed, was there any reason for any significant publicity to the diagnosis?
Part of the reason for all of the furor is that the Trump campaign and its allies have been pushing a narrative that there is some secret severe malady afflicting Clinton for some time. From long-term debilitation due to traumatic brain injury related to a 2012 concussion, to seizures, to Diazepam injectors, to medical records indicating dementia, Clinton has endured an incessant deluge of medical fabrications questioning her health. Given the problems Clinton has with public perceptions of her honesty it may not have been the best decision not to immediately come forward with the pneumonia diagnosis, but it is understandable that she and her team may have wanted to avoid further fanning the flames of medical conspiracy. Ultimately, either choice was likely to have the same outcome.
For those that do not but into thoroughly debunked conspiracy theories this illness should not be of any significance. Mrs. Clinton can be judged on her positions, her record, and even perceptions of honesty and judgement. For now, health appears to be a non-issue.