Pneumonia can rear its ugly head at any time of the year and for those suffering from chronic lung diseases, it’s best to be cautious all year round. Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs, sometimes only a specific section of a lung. It occurs when organisms settle in the air sacs and then grow rapidly, causing the sacs to fill with pus and fluid while the body tries to fight the infection.

People who have COPD are at greater risk of getting pneumonia because excess mucus is being produced and can trap the bacteria or fungus, allowing it to grow. Some symptoms of pneumonia are similar to those of a COPD exacerbation and include:

  • Fever higher than 100.5 degrees or shaking chills
  • Shortness of breath or more rapid breathing
  • Cough with increase in mucus
  • Cough with change in mucus color
  • Increased heartrate
  • Pain in one area of the chest with deep breaths

Call your doctor is you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms. The best ways to avoid pneumonia are:

  • See your doctor regularly, even if you are feeling well
  • Get a flu shot
  • Get a pneumonia vaccine if you’re due to get one
  • Wash your hands
  • Don’t smoke
  • Rest—a tired body is more susceptible to getting sick

It’s possible to stay healthy if you watch for early warning signs of a flare-up and report them right away to your doctor.