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.
Emphysema is a form of chronic (long-term) lung disease, usually caused by smoking. Because of lung damage, people with emphysema have difficulty blowing air out.
The major symptom of emphysema is shortness of breath. In most people, symptoms of emphysema are slowly progressive. Emphysema symptoms also include cough and wheezing.
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.
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
People with COPD often get pneumonia. Getting a shot can help keep you from getting very ill with pneumonia. People younger than 65 usually 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. Two different types of pneumococcal vaccines are recommended for people ages 65 and older.