The Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Foundation has developed tips for avoiding pneumonia and other exacerbations among patients with COPD.

Pneumonia primarily affects young children, smokers, adults older than age 65, and patients with COPD. It is the 8th leading cause of death in the United States and can be caused by other illnesses such as the flu, measles, pneumococcus, whooping cough, and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib).

Symptoms include:

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  • Fever or shaking chills
  • Rapid breathing or shortness of breath more severe than usual
  • Excess coughing producing a lot of mucus
  • Change in color of mucus (usually green, yellow, tan, or bloody)
  • Increased heart rate
  • Pain in a specific area (or areas) of the chest when deep breathing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Tips for patients with COPD to avoid pneumonia and COPD exacerbations entirely, include:

  • Keeping up with appointments with your healthcare team, even if you feel healthy
  • Having flu and pneumonia vaccinations annually
  • Regularly washing your hands, particularly after touching items other people may have handled
  • Carrying a bottle of hand sanitizer around for when you are somewhere without washrooms
  • Avoiding touching your mouth, nose, and eyes
  • Carrying your own pen so you do not need to use other people’s
  • Avoiding large crowds during cold and flu season
  • Avoiding people who are ill
  • Quitting smoking
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • Getting plenty of sleep


  1. Henderson W.  Tips for avoiding pneumonia and other exacerbations when you have COPD. COPD News Today. 3 August 2017.