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Chronic Lung Disease and Infection Prevention


Why is preventing infections important when you have a chronic lung condition?

When you a have a chronic lung condition, infections such as a cold or the flu, may become serious. These infections can cause more damage to your lungs. One episode of pneumonia puts you at risk to have more respiratory infections in the future.

How can I prevent respiratory infections?

  • Wash your hands. This is the most important thing you can do to prevent infection. Wash your hands several times each day. Encourage everyone in your house to wash their hands with soap and water after they use the bathroom. Everyone should also wash their hands after they change a child's diaper and before they prepare or eat food.
    • After you wash your hands, gently rub them dry with a clean towel or paper towel. Hold a paper towel in your hand while you turn off the water tap. When you leave the bathroom, hold a paper towel in your hand as you touch the door handle.
    • Use an alcohol-based hand rub for cleaning your hands if there is no water. Carry it with you when you leave the house. Before using a hand rub, wipe dirt off of your hands as much as you can. Your hands should be dry before you use hand rub. Rub your hands together until all of the liquid has dried.
  • Avoid crowds during flu season. Flu season is from late October to the middle of March. Do not have close contact with someone who is sick. Stay 3 to 6 feet away from people when you are in public. Ask friends and family to visit only when they are not sick.
  • Get vaccinated. Flu and pneumonia vaccines can help prevent infection. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about vaccines.
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Wash and dry your hands after each cough or sneeze.
  • Do not smoke. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask for information if you need help quitting.
  • Build resistance to infection. Eat a variety of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods. Choose dairy foods, meat, and other protein foods that are low in fat. Get plenty of sleep and physical activity. Work with your healthcare provider to develop an exercise plan that is right for you.
  • Protect your mouth from germs that lead to infection. Brush your teeth at least 2 times per day. See your dentist at least every 6 months.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.