Fall is upon us, and winter is just around the corner. This is the beginning of cough, cold, and flu season, which can easily lead to pneumonia.

Pneumonia can be a serious illness, even for presidential candidates, as we have recently seen in the news. Hillary Clinton’s recent case of pneumonia was bad enough to pull her off the campaign trail for several days. But if you suffer with COPD, this combination can quickly become serious enough to require a hospital stay. So how can you protect your health?

With COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – which also includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema – damage to lung tissue has a negative impact on the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Since the lungs are already compromised, to add pneumonia – or any type of lung infection – could cause serious complications. If you have COPD, it is wise to know how to stay healthy during flu season.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

This old adage is so true for people with COPD, emphysema, chronic lung disease, and other pulmonary conditions. Here are 10 very important ways to protect your health.

  1. Eat healthy meals and snacks

  2. Drink plenty of fluids – 64 ounces of water daily is the goal

  3. Stay active – 20 to 30 minutes a day of gentle exercise

  4. Get plenty of rest – 7 to 9 hours is ideal

  5. Wash your hands often to prevent infection

  6. Brush your teeth twice a day to keep your mouth healthy

  7. Keep your house and workspace clean and free of dust and mold

  8. Avoid being around others that are sick, avoid crowds

  9. Avoid lung irritants like cigarette smoke or chemical fumes

  10. Get vaccinated for the flu and pneumonia, if approved by your doctor

Does this list sound familiar? Yes, these are all the things we have been told all our lives to do to stay healthy. Well, guess what? There’s good reason – it works! With healthy lungs, these are good things to do; however, if you have a chronic lung disease, there may be some limitations to what you can do. Following these guidelines, along with staying on your currently prescribed treatment plan and therapies, could save your life or at least keep you out of the hospital.