6 Ways to Avoid Lung Infections

by Erica Sanderson Editor

For people with COPD and other related respiratory illnesses, these tips can help keep flare-ups at bay.

Cars and trucks on road with air pollution.


New research from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that certain combined environmental factors, such as pollution and smoking, can trigger the molecule interleukin-13 (IL-13) to cause an immune response that produces excess mucous common in COPD and other respiratory illnesses.

Stressed man working.


Psychological stress has been linked to restricting the effectiveness of cortisol, a key hormone for fighting inflammation. Learn to control your response to stress better, whether through meditation, yoga, or journaling.

Sneakers of person running on treadmill.


Exercise trains your lungs to breathe better and use oxygen as efficiently as possible to optimize lung function, says Dr. Derek Byers, assistant professor of medicine of Pulmonary and Critical Care at Washington University School of Medicine.

Healthy foods.

Eat right

A proper diet can do wonders for the immune system. Get plenty of antioxidants (berries and beans have high amounts) to help fight damaging free radicals that can cause illness or disease. Cruciferous vegetables are chock full of vitamins and disease-fighting phytochemicals, along with sulforaphane, which boosts the liver’s ability to detox the body.

Man with COPD measuring his lung function.


Some days you just don’t feel like doing your medical routine, whether it’s a nebulizer treatment, oral pills, or oxygen therapy. But consistency and compliance with your daily medications is a fundamental part of staying healthy. So even if it’s time consuming or a pain to do now, your body will make you pay tenfold later if you don’t.

Senior man walking outside with daughter.

Be smart

You know your body best. Use good judgment on where your physical limits lie. You might have to forgo a social outing for resting at home or limit your traveling. Be honest with yourself about how you feel and make informed decisions based off of that.

Erica Sanderson
Meet Our Writer
Erica Sanderson

Erica Sanderson is a former content producer and editor for HealthCentral. Living with a chronic disorder that affects the lungs and instestine, Erica focused on covering digestive health and respiratory health. Topics included COPD, asthma, acid reflux, managing symptoms and medication.