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What increases my risk of pneumonia?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Two groups are at greatest risk of pneumonia. The first is young children under the age of two. Their immune systems are developing and they are less able to fight off the germs that can cause pneumonia. The second is people who are 65 and older. Older adults may have weak immune systems. They also often have other conditions and illnesses that make them more likely to get pneumonia. At any age, you're more likely to get pneumonia if you have a lung disease such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Diabetes, heart failure, and sickle cell anemia raise your risk. Having a weakened immune system—from chemotherapy for cancer, for example—also raises your risk. Smokers, heavy drinkers, and people who have difficulty coughing also have a greater risk of pneumonia.

The risk for pneumonia is increased in young children and older adults, although it can happen to anyone at any age. Having a chronic illness, or smoking, can make you more likely to get pneumonia. You might also get it when you’re fighting off something else like a cold or flu.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.