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Who Gets Pneumonia?

The elderly, infants and young children, and individuals with underlying health problems, such as chronic bronchitis, diabetes and congestive heart failure, are considered at high risk for pneumonia. People who have diseases that impair the immune system, such as AIDS, are especially susceptible to pneumonia.

Patients suffering from chronic illnesses, such as asthma, or those undergoing treatment for cancer are also vulnerable to the condition. People with certain genetic disorders, such as sickle-cell disease and cystic fibrosis, are also at a greater risk to respiratory infections or pneumonia.

Exposure to cigarette smoke, which can injure the airways and damage the cilia, also increases the risk of pneumonia. Alcohol or drug abuse is also associated with pneumonia because these substances can diminish the reflexes that trigger our defense system (coughing and sneezing).

Recognizing the Symptoms of Pneumonia

The onset of pneumonia can range from gradual to sudden.

Common Symptoms

  • Chest pain
  • Sustained high fever
  • Headache
  • Greenish-yellow or rust-colored mucus
  • Productive cough
  • Shaking and chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue

Symptoms Indicating More Serious Condition

  • Rapid breathing and heartbeat
  • Excessive sweating
  • Low blood pressure
  • Bluish-skin
  • Mental confusion
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Coughing up blood
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
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