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Learning About COPD and How to Prevent Lung Infections

People doing things that help prevent lung infections, showing cooking healthy foods, washing hands, and getting vaccinated.

How do lung infections affect COPD?

Lung infections like pneumonia and acute bronchitis are common causes of COPD flare-ups. And people who have COPD are more likely to get these lung infections, especially if they smoke.

When you have COPD, it is important to know the symptoms of pneumonia and acute bronchitis and call your doctor or nurse advice line if you have them. Symptoms include:

  • A cough that brings up more mucus than usual.
  • Fever.
  • Shortness of breath.

What can you do to prevent these infections?

Stay healthy

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Get the influenza (flu) vaccine every year.
  • Stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Get a pneumococcal vaccine. If you have had one before, ask your doctor whether you need a second dose.
  • Make sure you are current on your whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine to help prevent whooping cough.
  • Do not smoke. This is the most important step you can take to prevent more damage to your lungs. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These may increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Avoid second-hand smoke and air pollution. Try to stay inside with your windows closed when air pollution is bad.
  • If you are exposed to substances that irritate your lungs at home or at work, talk to your doctor about ways to protect yourself.

Exercise and eat well

  • If your doctor recommends it, get more exercise. For many people, walking is a good choice. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk every day. Try for at least 2½ hours a week.
  • Eat regular, well-balanced meals. Eating right keeps your energy levels up and helps your body fight infection.
  • Get plenty of rest and sleep.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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