Risk Factors for Pneumonia
A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
It is possible to develop pneumonia with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing pneumonia. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your healthcare provider what you can do to reduce your risk.
Smoking and Second-hand Smoke
People who smoke have a much higher risk of developing pneumonia. If you stop smoking, your risk will gradually return to normal. However, this may take as long as ten years.
You are also at risk for pneumonia if you are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke. For example, children in households where the parents smoke have higher rates of pneumonia than do children in smoke-free households.
Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Crowded Living Conditions
The risk of pneumonia is increased among people living in crowded conditions, such as:
- Students in dormitories
- Patients living in institutions
- Military personnel in barracks
People who are hospitalized have a much higher risk of developing pneumonia than do nonhospitalized individuals. This risk is even higher for patients who have recently undergone major surgery or who are on ventilators. Other medical conditions that can increase your risk of developing pneumonia include:
- Conditions that interfere with your gag reflex:
- Conditions that weaken your immune system:
- ]]>Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease]]> (COPD)
- Chronic sinus infections
- Kidney disease
- ]]>Congestive heart failure]]>
- Poor nutrition
- Generally debilitated state
- Liver disease
- Recent antibiotic use
- Ventilator use
Children have a higher risk of developing pneumonia if they have:
- Weakened immune systems
- ]]>Gastroesophageal reflux disorder]]>
- Lung or heart defects
- Nervous system defects that affect the muscles of the mouth and/or throat
Pneumonia is more common among certain age groups:
- Young children
A number of genetic disorders can predispose you to pneumonia, such as:
Occupational exposure to toxic chemical fumes and/or smoke can weaken your lung’s defenses, predisposing you to pneumonia.
Intravenous Drug Use
Intravenous drug use can increase your risk of pneumonia and other infectious diseases.
American Lung Association website. Available at: http://www.lungusa.org/site/pp.asp?c=dvLUK9O0E&b=22542 . Accessed July 17, 2008.
Flanders SA, Collard HR, Saint S. Nosocomial pneumonia: state of the science. Am J Infect Control. 2006;34:84-93
Mayo Clinic website. Available: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pneumonia/DS00135 . Accessed on July 17, 2008.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/ . Accessed July 17, 2008.
Primary Care Medicine . 4th ed. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2000.
Last reviewed July 2008 by ]]>Marcin Chwistek, MD]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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