3D model of flu

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease vs Colds and Flu

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Vs Colds and Flu 

Individuals with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease are at a greater risk of suffering health complications from catching colds and flu. If you or someone you know has COPD, it is important to know the risks and how to prevent them.

What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is an umbrella term for a group of different lung conditions that affect a person’s ability to breathe. These conditions include emphysema and chronic bronchitis. 

Symptoms include breathlessness, a persistent chesty cough with phlegm, chest infections and wheezing. Many people with COPD do not know that they have it and go undiagnosed. If you suspect that you may have COPD, then please speak to your GP.

Who has it?

COPD is a common condition. Around 2% of the UK population is diagnosed with it. Most people who suffer from it are middle-aged or older and usually have a history of smoking, however this is not always the case. It can also be caused by genetics, as a person’s lungs can be more vulnerable to damage.

It gets progressively worse over time and there is currently no cure, however there are measures that sufferers can take to prevent it from progressing rapidly, such as quitting smoking and using inhalers and medicines. 

How do Colds and Flu Affect People with COPD?

Colds and flu are extremely common and most people recover easily without any serious complications. It’s normal for us to get sick from time to time, but not everyone experiences colds and flu the same way. For many people, it’s not “just a cold”.

Cold and flu viruses can be very dangerous for people with COPD. This is because upper respiratory infections can greatly exacerbate COPD symptoms. Sufferers can find it very hard to breathe, their persistent coughing can become worse and phlegm production can increase. Many people are admitted into hospital after COPD flare-ups caused by colds and flu. It is extremely important to tell your doctor if you are having trouble breathing.

How can I Protect Myself or Someone I Know with COPD?

The best way to avoid serious illness is to take measures to prevent yourself or someone you know with COPD from catching a cold or flu virus. Some measures you can take to protect yourself if you have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease are:

  • Staying away from people who are sick
  • Good hygiene practices, such as frequent handwashing
  • Avoiding crowded places
  • Telling your doctor if you become sick

This also goes for COVID-19, which can be extremely dangerous for people with COPD as it can cause extreme breathing problems and cause further damage to the lungs. After COPD 

Staying up to date with flu and COVID-19 vaccines can also help to prevent severe complications caused by flu and COVID-19. If you need to have a flu vaccine, then you can contact your GP to book an appointment and if you need a vaccination for COVID-19 you can book it at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/ 

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