Preventing Respiratory Infection and Avoiding Irritants

People with COPD have difficulty clearing their lungs of bacteria, dusts and other pollutants in the air. This makes them at risk for lung infections that may cause further damage to the lungs.

Therefore, it is important to watch for signs of infection and follow these tips to help prevent infections. You will probably not be able to avoid infections entirely, but these tips will help you prevent infections as much as possible.

What can I do to prevent infections?

Visitors

If visitors have cold or flu symptoms, ask them not to visit until they are feeling well.

Environment
Equipment care
Diet
Hand washing

Frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water, especially before preparing food, eating, taking medications or breathing treatments; and after coughing or sneezing, using the bathroom, touching soiled linens or clothes, and after you've been around someone with a cold or the flu as well as after you've been at a social gathering. It is also good to carry waterless hand sanitizers with you to use when necessary.

Other general health guidelines

When should I call my doctor?

Call your doctor if you experience any of the warning signs of an infection (listed below). Also call your doctor if you have any symptoms that cause concern.

Warning signs of infection

While most infections can be successfully treated, you must be able to recognize an infection's immediate symptoms for proper and effective care.

If you have any of these symptoms, contact your physician right away, even if you don't feel sick.

Avoiding irritants

The lungs of people with COPD are sensitive to certain irritating substances in the air, such as: cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes, strong perfumes, cleaning products, paint/varnish, dust, pollen, pet dander and air pollution. Extreme cold or hot weather conditions can also irritate your lungs.

You can avoid some of these irritants by:

References:

 

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. For additional health information, please contact the Center for Consumer Health Information at the Cleveland Clinic (216) 444-3771 or toll-free (800) 223-2273 extension 43771. If you prefer, you may visit www.clevelandclinic.org/health/ or www.clevelandclinicflorida.org. This document was last reviewed on: 9/5/2017

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