It is no coincidence that World COPD Day occurs in November: November is especially dangerous for people with this chronic lung disease. “After a stable phase with sunlight and temperature, the weather in November becomes humid and cold; this is the weather in which cold viruses multiply particularly well,” explains Horst Olschewski, head of the department of pulmonary diseases at the LKH University Hospital Graz. In healthy people, such viruses cause cough, runny nose, and hoarseness; However, in people with lung disease, such infections can cause further deterioration of lung function (medically: exacerbation). “COPD patients learn to live with their disease, the body adapts to breathing restrictions – but if a virus emerges, this unstable balance is disrupted,” says Olschewski; worst outcome: lung failure.

Therefore, protection against infections is especially important for lung patients in the cold season; Some patients also receive long-term antibiotic treatment during the winter months. “This allows us to prevent bacterial superinfections from establishing themselves in the lungs,” explains Olschewski.

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