Pneumonia Risk Factors

A number of factors can increase your chances of getting pneumonia. For example, certain chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, can raise your risk. Other risk factors for pneumonia include being on a breathing machine, being a smoker, recently having the flu, and being over 65 years of age.

What Increases a Person's Chances for Pneumonia?

Every day, germs enter your airways and lungs. Most of the time, the body filters out these germs, protecting the lungs from infection. Sometimes, however, germs manage to enter the lungs and cause infections, including pneumonia. This is more likely to happen in certain groups of people and in certain situations.
Some of the factors that increase a person's chances for pneumonia (these are called pneumonia risk factors) include:
  • Smoking.
  • Being an alcoholic.
  • Using IV drugs.
  • Recent cold or flu.
  • Recent anesthesia.
  • Older age (increased rate in people age 65 and older).
  • Being a newborn or infant (age two or younger). The immune system is still developing during the first few years of life.
  • Having received an organ or bone marrow transplant.
  • Recent stroke or seizure.
  • People getting chemotherapy or who have been on steroids for a long time (these can weaken the immune system).
  • Certain times of year. Certain germs, such as the influenza virus, are more likely to cause pneumonia during the winter months.
  • Close living quarters, such as military barracks or dorm rooms.
  • Being malnourished.
  • Handling birds or rabbits.
  • Exposure to farm animals.
  • Exposure to certain chemicals, pollutants, or toxic fumes.
  • Having recently stayed in a hotel or cruise ship.
  • Having recently traveled to or currently living in the southwestern United States or southeast or east Asia.
5 Tips to Keep a Cold at Bay

Pneumonia Information

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