In general, the worse your underlying COPD, the more often you will have exacerbations. Acute exacerbations cannot be totally prevented. However, you can decrease how often you have them and how bad they are if you manage your care well.
General guidelines for reducing exacerbations include:
Wash your hands often. It is an easy way to prevent infection. Also, avoid close contact with people who have colds or the flu.
Keep your flu and pneumonia shots up to date.
Keep your lungs...
About 10 million people have been diagnosed with
some form of COPD, and as many as 24 million more may be
COPD is the fourth most common cause of death.
COPD is also a major cause of disability and death
worldwide.1 The World Health Organization estimates
that by 2020, COPD will become the third most common cause of death
The disease is more common
Smokers. Most people with COPD have a history of
significant cigarette use.1
Older adults than younger people.
Men and women are affected equally. Some studies suggest that
women are more susceptible to the effects of tobacco smoke than men.3 This may be a concern, given that COPD symptoms develop in at
least 10% to 15% of long-term smokers, and some studies indicate that up to 50%
of long-term smokers older than age 45 develop COPD.4
Senior RM, Silverman EK (2007). Chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease. In DC Dale, DD Federman, eds., ACP Medicine, section 14, chap. 22. New York: WebMD.
Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease
(2009). In Global Strategy for the Diagnosis, Management, and Prevention of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Available online:
Lundbäck B, et al. (2003). Not 15 but 50% of smokers
develop COPD?-Report from the Obstructive Lung Disease in Northern Sweden
Studies. Respiratory Medicine, 97(2):
Primary Medical Reviewer
Caroline S. Rhoads, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Ken Y. Yoneda, MD - Pulmonology
May 4, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
May 04, 2010
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