Chronic Lung Disease: Preventing Lung Infections

Chronic lung diseases include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Other chronic lung diseases include pulmonary fibrosis, sarcoidosis, and other conditions. When you have chronic lung diseases, it's very important to protect yourself from respiratory infections, like colds, the flu, and lung infections. Infections may cause your lung condition to worsen. Although you can't completely avoid them, there are things you can do to lessen the chance of infections.

Health care provider preparing to give injection in upper arm of woman sitting in chair.

Take precautions

Taking the following precautions can help you avoid illness:

  • Remember to keep your hands away from your nose and mouth. Germs on your hands get into your respiratory system this way.

  • Wash your hands often. When you wash them:

    • Use soap and warm water.

    • Rub your hands together well for at least 20 seconds.

    • Make sure to rinse them well.

    • Dry your hands on clean towels or air-dry them.

  • Use hand sanitizer containing alcohol, if you are unable to wash your hands. Use the sanitizer after touching doorknobs, handles, and supermarket carts, for example, since lots of people touch them. Then wash your hands as soon as you can.

  • To help prevent the flu, get a flu vaccination every year. This may be given at your healthcare provider's office, a drugstore, or pharmacy, or at work. Get your flu shot as soon as the vaccines are available in your area. This is usually around September each year.

  • To help prevent pneumococcal pneumonia, get pneumonia vaccinations. Talk with your healthcare provider about which pneumococcal vaccinations you need.

  • Try to stay away from people with respiratory infections, such as colds or the flu. Stay away from crowded places, like shopping centers or movie theatres during cold and flu season.

  • If you smoke, think about quitting. In addition to causing or worsening many lung conditions, the lung damage from smoking increases your risk of infections. Stay away from others who smoke, too. This is also harmful and increases your chance of infections.