You Didn’t Know This About The Link Between COPD and Pneumonia


COPD and pneumonia are different conditions. However, there is a link between them. People with advanced COPD are at a higher risk of pneumonia. You also have an increased risk of respiratory failure associated with COPD exacerbations (flare-ups) and pneumonia.

What is the difference between COPD and pneumonia?

When you put two conditions on the scale, you might notice a few differences. The biggest worry for people with COPD is that they are more prone to infection such as pneumonia. A paper in a 2002 issue of the American Family Physician states that 70 to 75 percent of COPD exacerbations are caused by bacterial infections such as Streptococcus pneumonia and Haemophilus influenza.


This is a group of diseases damage lungs and make it hard to breathe that reduce oxygen to the blood by:

  • Blocking airway from inflammation (chronic bronchitis);
  • Damaged air sacs (emphysema).

Some common symptoms include:

  • Cough;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Wheezing;
  • Chest tightness.

COPD may be caused by:

  • Smoking;
  • Heredity;
  • Air pollution;
  • Childhood infections;
  • Inhalation injury.

There is no treatment for COPD, but you should mind the disease managements. Those include:

  • Antibiotic;
  • Decongestion medication;
  • Oxygen therapy;
  • Lifestyle changes: exercise, hydration.


This is an infection of the lungs caused by bacteria.

Having pneumonia, people may experience the same symptoms as those who have COPD and more:

  • Fever;
  • Chills and shaking;
  • Chest pain.

The common treatments for pneumonia include:

  • Antibiotic;
  • Oxygen therapy.

How COPD leads to pneumonia?

In people with COPD, environmental aspects can infect the damaged lungs easily. That is why people with COPD often need vaccines yearly to prevent pneumonia. In later stage COPD, it can be hard to tell the difference between the symptoms of worsening COPD and pneumonia because they are often quite similar. More common in COPD exacerbations and pneumonia is:

  • Inability to speak due to a lack of air;
  • Change in color of your mucus that could be green, tan, yellow, or bloody;
  • High fever;
  • Inability to get your usual relief from your COPD medication.

What can I do to prevent pneumonia when I have COPD?

To prevent pneumonia, the first step is to stop smoking. This also includes second-hand smoke, as well as other fume or gas that can irritate or damage the lungs.

If you have COPD, you should ask your doctor about which vaccine you need to take. Beside vaccine for pneumonia, your doctor might also recommend vaccine for the flu. Of course, you will need to stay away from triggers that can make your COPD worse. Even with COPD, you can exercise to keep your lungs healthy. Follow a healthy diet for COPD can help you relieve its symptoms.

Notify your doctor of any changes in symptoms and seek emergency treatment when your medication doesn’t help your symptoms, or if your symptoms are severe and your shortness of breath is making it difficult to function.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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