Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School



The majority of cases of COPD are related to smoking You can drastically reduce your risk of COPD by avoiding cigarettes.

  • If you smoke, get the help you need to stop.

  • If you don't smoke, don't start.

  • Limit your exposure to secondhand smoke.

In addition, avoid outdoor activities when air pollution levels are high.

If you have chronic bronchitis, avoid contact with anyone with an upper respiratory tract infection. Even a mild cold can trigger a flare-up of bronchitis symptoms.

During cold and flu season:

  • Wash your hands frequently

  • Avoid touching your face with your hands

Anyone with COPD should be vaccinated against influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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