Don't smoke: The best way to keep
COPD from starting or from getting worse is to not
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
Doctors describe the severity and progression of emphysema with staging systems. Although everyone with emphysema is unique, emphysema staging can help with prognosis. However, no emphysema staging system can accurately predict what will happen to any individual person with emphysema.
Today's medicines offer lots of help for people who
want to quit. You will double your chances of quitting
even if medicine is the only treatment you use to quit. And your odds get even
better when you combine medicine and other quit strategies, such as
counseling.1 For more information, see the topic
Stopping smoking is
especially important if you have low levels of the protein
alpha-1 antitrypsin. People who have this may lower
their risk for severe COPD if they get timely shots of alpha-1 antitrypsin that
has been obtained from human
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.
Preventing other problems
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
Also, getting regular flu vaccines may lower your chances
Pneumococcal shot: 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.