Prevention of COPD
There are a number of steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing COPD. These include:
Giving up smoking
Smoking is the most common cause of COPD. By giving up smoking, you can reduce your chances of developing COPD even if you have been a smoker for many years. If you have already developed COPD, giving up smoking can slow down the progress of your disease. Your GP can offer advice and guidance to help you give up smoking.
Avoiding inhalation of lung irritants
Other lung irritants, such as chemical fumes and dust, have been linked to the development of COPD. By cutting down your exposure to these irritants, you can reduce your risk of developing COPD.
Taking regular exercise
Exercise can help to strengthen your lung (pulmonary) muscles and improve your breathing. Exercise can also help you to lose weight, which will reduce your breathlessness. Before undertaking a physical exercise programme, you should consult your GP who will be able to advise you on the most appropriate programme to suit your condition.
Healthy eating is important for maintaining a strong immune system, which reduces your risk of developing respiratory infections that can lead to worsening of your symptoms. Maintaining a healthy weight is also important when you are at risk of developing COPD. Being underweight can lead to wasting of your pulmonary muscles and diaphragm, whereas being overweight can exert more pressure on your heart and lungs and lead to breathing problems.
Respiratory infections such as influenza and pneumonia can lead to symptoms of COPD. Therefore, if you are at risk of developing COPD, you should consider receiving vaccinations against influenza and pneumonia. These may include an annual influenza vaccination and a one-off vaccination against pneumonia. Your GP will be able to advise you on vaccinations available to you.