You might think that pneumonia is an illness that strikes only older adults. The reality is that different conditions can raise your risk of pneumonia at any age. Those at risk of developing the lung infection include people who: Smoke Have a weak or compromised immune system Were recently hospitalized Recently suffered a stroke People Who Smoke Your lungs contain tiny hairs that sweep bacteria and germs away. Smoking damages these tiny hairs. This means that an infection has a greater chance of taking root within your lungs. People With Compromised Immune Systems If you have a weak immune system, your body is less able to fight off infections. This makes it easier for you to get sick with pneumonia. A compromised immune system also puts you at risk of developing pneumonia from bacteria, viruses and germs that wouldn’t normally cause pneumonia in healthy people. Conditions that may weaken your immune system and raise your risk of contracting pneumonia include: COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) Diabetes Emphysema Heart disease HIV/AIDS You may also have a weak immune system if you have: Received an organ transplant or stem cell transplant Taken chemotherapy for cancer Used steroids for a long time Age also affects the immune system. Babies age two years and younger can get pneumonia because their immune systems aren’t fully developed. Your risk of pneumonia also rises after age 65. As you age, your immune system becomes less equipped to fend off infections. Patients Who Were Recently Hospitalized A certain kind of pneumonia you can catch in a hospital is called hospital-acquired pneumonia. It can be a more serious form of the infection than other types. If you were on a ventilator while in the hospital, you’re also at an increased risk. Ventilators make it more difficult for you to cough, so germs can get trapped in your lungs and cause an infection. Lying in bed for a long period of time also can make you more likely to develop pneumonia. Fluid and mucus can gather in your lungs, which creates an environment for pneumonia-causing bacteria to thrive. People Who’ve Recently Suffered a Stroke Pneumonia is one of the most common complications following a stroke. It’s most likely to occur within the first two days after having a stroke. After a stroke, you may experience swallowing problems. Inhaled bacteria can reside in the mouth, then move to the lungs and lead to an infection. People with dementia and Parkinson’s disease can also have difficulty swallowing, which may put them at risk of pneumonia. If you find yourself or someone you care for in one of these categories, talk with your doctor about how you can prevent pneumonia.