Flu season: Managing COPD and taking care of your lungs over winter

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is one of the most common reasons for people being admitted to hospital during the winter months.

As temperatures drop, the condition can worsen as inflammation narrows airways in the lungs making it difficult to breathe.

This December health officials are urging everyone who has COPD to take extra special care to prevent their symptoms becoming particularly bad and ending up in hospital.

Dr David Crichton, local GP and Chairman of NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Those with a diagnosis of COPD are at a higher risk of cold, flu and pneumonia leading to more breathing difficulties or lung cancer. It’s absolutely vital that if you are entitled to a free flu jab, please have it. Not only are you protecting yourself from the virus, but those around you too.”

Symptoms of COPD include being out of breath when exercising or moving around, a persistent cough with phlegm that never goes away, wheezing and frequent chest infections.

There are some simple steps to help reduce the severity of COPD symptoms and chances of a flare-up:

  • Keep active
  • Take your medication as prescribed, even if you feel better
  • Keep in touch with your healthcare team and discuss any concerns with them
  • Keep well by having your yearly flu jab and an anti-pneumonia vaccination
  • Check the weather forecast
  • Avoid dusty places, fumes, smoke, and strong smelling products
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • If you have been given standby medications, use them when appropriately.

If you would like to book a flu jab or have any concerns about your lung health please call your local practice or visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease-copd/ for further information.