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Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

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Pneumonia - What Increases Your Risk

You are more likely to get pneumonia if you:

  • Smoke. Cigarette smoking is the strongest risk factor for pneumonia in healthy young people.2
  • Have another medical condition, especially lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma.
  • Are younger than 1 year of age or older than 65.
  • Have an impaired immune system.
  • Take medicine called a proton pump inhibitor (such as Prilosec or Protonix) that reduces the amount of stomach acid.3, 4
  • Drink excessive amounts of alcohol.
  • Recently had a cold or the flu.

You are more likely to have complications of pneumonia and need to go to the hospital if you:

Recommended Related to Lung Disease/Respiratory Problems

Walking Pneumonia

"Walking pneumonia" sounds like it could be a character in a sci-fi horror flick. Although this form of infectious pneumonia can make you miserable, it's actually the least scary kind of pneumonia. That's because it's a mild pneumonia and does not generally require hospitalization. You could have walking pneumonia and not even know it. Here is information about what causes this illness, how it spreads, and what you can do to avoid it.

Read the Walking Pneumonia article > >

  • Are older than 65.
  • Have some other illness (such as COPD, diabetes, or asthma), or have gone to the hospital for a medical problem within the last 3 months.
  • Have had your spleen removed or do not have a working spleen (such as in sickle cell disease).
  • Have an alcohol use problem.
  • Have a weak immune system.
  • Reside in a place where people live close together, such as a college dorm or nursing home.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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