What can I do to prevent infections, especially if I have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)?

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.


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

  • Keep your house clean and free from excess dust. Keep your bathrooms and sinks free from mold or mildew.
  • Do not work in or visit any form of construction site. Dust can be harmful. If you absolutely must go near this type of area, wear a mask provided by your doctor.
  • Avoid air pollution, including tobacco smoke, wood or oil smoke, car exhaust fumes and industrial pollution which can cause inhaled irritants to enter your lungs. Also avoid pollen.
  • Make sure your cooking vent is working properly so cooking fumes can be drawn out of the house.
  • If possible, try to stay away from large crowds in the fall and winter when the flu season is at its peak.
Equipment care
  • Keep breathing equipment clean.
  • Do not let others use your medical equipment, including: oxygen cannula, metered dose inhaler (MDI), MDI spacer, nebulizer tubing and mouthpiece.
  1. Try to eat a balanced diet. Good nutrition is important to help the body resist infection. Eat foods from all the food groups.
  2. Drink plenty of fluids—at least 6 to 8 eight-ounce glasses per day (unless your doctor gives you other guidelines). Water, juices and sports drinks are best.
Other general health guidelines
  • Do not rub your eyes, as this can transmit germs to your nasal passages via the tear ducts.
  • Quitting smoking and avoiding second-hand smoke (the smoke from a burning cigarette or cigar and the smoke exhaled by a smoker) are important steps you can take to protect your lungs from infection.
  • Follow your doctor's medication guidelines.
  • Get enough sleep and rest.
  • Manage your stress.
  • Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about getting a flu shot every year and get the pneumonia vaccine if you have not had one.
  • Be careful to avoid infection when traveling. In areas where the water might be unsafe, drink bottled water or other beverages (order beverages without ice). Swim only in chlorinated pools.

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