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COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) - Prevention

Don't smoke

The best way to keep COPD from starting or from getting worse is to not smoke.

There are clear benefits to quitting, even after years of smoking. When you stop smoking, you slow down the damage to your lungs. For most people who quit, loss of lung function is slowed to the same rate as a nonsmoker's.

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Stopping smoking is especially important if you have low levels of the protein alpha-1 antitrypsin. People who have an alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency may lower their risk for severe COPD if they get regular shots of alpha-1 antitrypsin. Family members of someone with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency should be tested for the condition.

Avoid bad air

Other airway irritants (such as air pollution, chemical fumes, and dust) also can make COPD worse, but they are far less important than smoking in causing the disease.

Get vaccines

Flu vaccines

If you have COPD, you need to get a flu vaccine every year. When people with COPD get the flu, it often turns into something more serious, like pneumonia. A flu vaccine can help prevent this from happening.

Also, getting regular flu vaccines may lower your chances of having COPD flare-ups.7

Pneumococcal vaccine

People with COPD often get pneumonia. Getting a shot can help keep you from getting very ill with pneumonia. Usually, people need only one shot, but doctors sometimes recommend a second shot for some people who got their first shot before they turned 65. Talk with your doctor about whether you need a second shot.

Pertussis vaccine

Pertussis (also called whooping cough) can increase the risk of having a COPD flare-up.8 So making sure you are current on your pertussis vaccinations may help control COPD.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 16, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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