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Infection Prevention and Guidelines

Infection Prevention
It is impossible to live in a completely germ-free environment. The fact remains that people who have lung disease are more prone to develop respiratory infections then our healthier counterparts. When we do get infections, we also seem to get them worse; they last longer and are harder to recover from as well.

Because each infection can cause further lung damage, it is important to take some practical precautions.

Most germs are spread by way of hand contact.
  • Be sure to wash your hands often.
  • Stay away from crowded places, especially during winter months when more people have colds or flu.
  • Avoid those people whom you know have a cold or flu. Explaining your risk to relatives and friends will help them understand and hopefully comply with your needs.
  • It is suggested that for unexpected mishaps, you carry some anti-bacterial hand wipes with you or a travel-size bottle of the newer anti-bacterial hand washes. They all fit easily in purse or pocket or in your vehicle's glove compartment.
Keep yourself healthy.
  • Take your medications as prescribed.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Stop smoking if you have not already.
  • Eat nourishing meals.
  • Get adequate rest.
Protect yourself.
  • Get a Flu shot annually. The influenza virus changes from year to year. It is therefore necessary to be re-vaccinated each year. Check with your doctor or public health agency for times and availability in your area.
  • If you have not already had one, ask you doctor if you should receive the pneumonia vaccine. Pneumonia can be caused by either viral or bacterial causes. The pneumonia vaccine will only protect you against certain strains of strep-pneumonia; however, it does offer some protection. Many doctors recommend it. Check with your own personal physician for recommendation as to when or if you should receive an additional shot.

Signs of infection.
Lung infections can come on quickly and cause serious problems for those of us with COPD and other lung disorders. Our already compromised immune systems have trouble fighting off infections and the damage the infections can cause to our lungs is something we need to try to avoid as much as possible.

Contact your physician immediately if:
  • You have a fever or uncontrollable chills.
  • You are coughing much more than normal for you.
  • You are very short of breath or your shortness of breath is worse than what is normal for you.
  • You are wheezing with an increased severity or more than what is normal for you.
  • You have more or thicker mucus than what is normal for you.
  • You notice a change in the color of the mucus you are producing.  Green, yellow, gray or blood-tinged mucus can be a sign of infection.
  • You have an increase in nasal discharge.
  • You notice a change in color of that discharge. Green and yellow are indicators of a sinus infection.

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Last modified: June 17, 2002