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Don’t smoke. If you have never smoked, don’t start. Smoking is the number one cause of COPD. The most important way to prevent COPD is not to smoke. If you already smoke, consider quitting. There are many effective medications and smoking cessation programs. Contact The Lung Association’s Lung Health Information Line for more information at 1.888.344.LUNG (5864)
Avoid second-hand smoke. Second-hand smoke exposure adds to the risk of COPD. Ask the smokers around you to take it outside.
Try to avoid air pollution. Adjust your outdoor activity level based on the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI), and a great tool used to forecast air pollution levels is www.airhealth.ca. When possible, keep windows, doors and blinds doors closed to block the sun and heat. Use an air conditioner or fan to maintain a comfortable temperature.
Find out how to protect yourself if you work in an industry that exposes you to coal dust, chemical fumes, concrete dust, mineral dust and cotton or grain dusts.
Know your family history. Do you know of anyone in your family who developed early onset COPD (before the age of 40)? There is an inherited disease called Alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency that may make you more susceptible to COPD. If you know of someone in your family who was diagnosed at an early age, it is extremely important not to smoke. If your health-care provider thinks you may have this gene, a blood test can be ordered.