How to Prevent Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Steering clear of cigarette smoking is the most obvious and effective way to prevent COPD. Many people try to quit smoking "cold turkey," but several studies indicate that using nicotine replacement therapy or the oral medication bupropion (Zyban), alone or in combination, can help increase the chances of quitting smoking.

A new smoking cessation drug, varenicline (Chantix), also helps some people quit smoking. It appears to work best for smokers who have not been able to quit using other methods, including nicotine replacement products.

There is some concern that Chantix and Zyban may cause severe mood and behavior changes, and the FDA now requires a black box warning about such changes on the product labels. Behavior changes to look for include hostility, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal thoughts, and/or attempts to commit suicide. If such changes occur, stop taking the medication immediately and tell your doctor. Zyban also may increase the risk for vision loss and angle-closure glaucoma.

One stop-smoking method to avoid is electronic cigarettes.

Some people with a deficiency of alpha1 antitrypsin may receive some protection from COPD by getting weekly or twice-monthly intravenous (I.V.) injections of the protein, but such treatments are expensive, inconvenient and not always effective.

Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: Peter B. Terry, M.D., M.A.

Published: 07 Aug 2011

Last Modified: 22 Jul 2015