Learning About COPD and How to Prevent Lung Infections

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How do lung infections affect COPD?

The lungs

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 call 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

  • Get a flu shot every fall.
  • Get a pneumococcal vaccine shot. If you have had one before, ask your doctor whether you need a second dose.
  • If you must be around people with colds or the flu, wash your hands often.
  • 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 can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Avoid second-hand smoke, air pollution, and high altitudes. Also avoid cold, dry air and hot, humid air. Stay at home with your windows closed when air pollution is bad.

Exercise and eat well

  • If your doctor recommends it, get more exercise. 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 call line 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 https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: May 23, 2016