Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis, and Colds (cont.)

What happens with emphysema and chronic bronchitis and colds?

A cold is a viral respiratory illness that mainly affects your nose and throat but in some instances can affect your airways. When you have emphysema or chronic bronchitis, you already have some difficulty breathing because of the damaged airways and lungs. Catching a respiratory virus along with COPD can hinder breathing even more and can cause the following changes in your symptoms:

  • An increase in phlegm

  • An increase in the thickness or stickiness of the phlegm

  • A change in phlegm color to yellow or green

  • A presence of blood in the phlegm

  • An increase in the severity of shortness of breath, cough, or wheezing

  • A general feeling of ill health

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Increased fatigue

Why should I take colds seriously with emphysema or chronic bronchitis?

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Catching a cold with emphysema or chronic bronchitis may also lead to bacterial infections such as pneumonia. This occurs because of the airway obstruction and the inability to cough out infected secretions of mucus.

Sometimes, patients with COPD are hospitalized because of a respiratory infection and the worsening of their symptoms. Treatment may include inhaled medications, oxygen, and antibiotics to treat any bacterial infection. Antibiotics do not treat a cold.

To avoid more serious problems with emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and colds, it's important to always alert your doctor if your cold symptoms get worse. Don't wait until you have more serious breathing problems to contact your doctor.

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Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis, and Colds - Experience Question: If you have emphysema or chronic bronchitis, please describe what it's like when you come down with a cold.
Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis, and Colds - Treatment Question: What kinds of treatment, medications, or therapy help when you have a cold virus?
Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis, and Colds - Prevention Question: As a patient with emphysema or chronic bronchitis, how do you try to prevent colds or flu?