Recognising Pneumonia

Who is Most at Risk?

Anyone of any age can get pneumonia. In adults, approximately 5-11 people out of every 1,000 get pneumonia each year in the UK. Pneumonia can be more of a threat for two groups of people:

  • First, there are people who have a higher risk of developing pneumonia, such as those with a weaker immune system.
  • Second, there are people who are not at extra risk of developing pneumonia, but if they do develop it they may experience worse effects. This group includes people with heart or lung disease and other medical conditions.

Both these groups need to take more care to reduce their chances of developing pneumonia and any potential complications.  People in these high-risk groups include:

  • babies and infants
  • older people
  • people with long-term heart, lung and kidney diseases, and those with diabetes
  • people with cancer, especially those having chemotherapy or who have leukaemia or lymphoma
  • people who smoke or drink alcohol to excess
  • people receiving drugs that suppress the immune system, and those with HIV/AIDS

In addition to these groups, people who are in hospital for other problems sometimes develop pneumonia while they are there. This does not mean that the hospital is unhygienic, but that their resistance to the germs that can cause pneumonia has been weakened by their other medical problems.