Pneumonia can be caused due to infection with bacteria and viruses. The germs often enter your body but most of the time the body’s defences prevent them from invading your lungs. The microbe can overpower your defence mechanism to reach the lungs even if you are fit and healthy. But certain risk factors increase your chance of developing pneumonia. Here are some risk factors for pneumonia:
- Age: Elderly (people 65 years or older) and young children (less than 5 years) are particularly at risk of pneumonia. The risk is increased in elderly who have chronic illnesses such as chronic lung disease, heart ailments, and diabetes.
- Certain Diseases: Several diseases such as immune deficiency diseases (HIV/AIDS) and chronic illnesses (such as heart disease, emphysema and other lung diseases), Parkinson's disease and strokes, and certain cancers increase your risk of developing pneumonia. Medications such as steroids, chemotherapy or long-term use of immunosuppressant drugs which weaken the immune system also make you more prone to developing pneumonia.
- Smoking: According to experts smoking makes you more prone to pneumonia and other lung problems as it damages your body's natural defences against the bacteria and viruses.
- Exposure to certain Chemicals or Pollutants: People who work in chemical industries or are exposed to irritants (pollen, dander, and dust) as part of their occupation are more prone to developing pneumonia and other lung diseases. Constant exposure to irritants, air pollution or toxic fumes cause lung inflammation, making it harder for the lungs to clear themselves and increases the risk of infection.