Skip to content

This information was reviewed and approved by Russell P. Bowler, MD, PhD, Irina Petrache, MD (3/1/2021).

Although it is important to take preventive measures to avoid lung infections, you do not need to isolate yourself from other people.

Washing hands at sink

There is no guaranteed way to prevent infections. However, if you are proactive, take the time to wash your hands and are aware of your surroundings, then you will increase your chances of living an infection-free life.

Suggestions for Avoiding Infections with COPD

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. Good hand-washing with soap and water is one of the easiest and best ways to avoid getting all sorts of infections. Be extra vigilant at good hand-washing whenever you visit a hospital, clinic, school or any other place where a large number of people are gathered. Alcohol-based gels are also effective. 

  • When you do cough or sneeze, make sure you do so into your elbow area or a tissue or handkerchief, rather than into your hands.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs are often spread this way.

  • If you use any equipment to help you breathe easier or clear your chest such as a spacer/holding chamber, nebulizer and/or Acapella®/Aerobika®, make sure you clean them often and thoroughly. Cleaning instructions are available with the product.

  • Get the flu vaccine (against the influenza virus) every fall. 

  • Get the COVID-19 vaccine

  • Get the vaccines against pneumococcal bacteria

    • Pneumococcal polysaccharide (PCV23) vaccine once with a second booster in five years)

    • Pneumococcal 13-valent (PCV13) vaccine

  • Ask your health care provider about what vaccines are best for you, and review our adult vaccination schedule Med Fact.

  • Avoid crowds, and don't socialize with people who are sick. If your friend has a cold, don't get too close, or consider rescheduling until he or she has recovered and is no longer infectious.

For more than 100 years, National Jewish Health has been committed to finding new treatments and cures for diseases. Search our clinical trials.