Prevent chronic lower respiratory diseases

Many women don't realize that they're at risk of illness and even death from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease — which includes bronchitis and emphysema. Don't be caught off guard. To protect your respiratory health:

  • Don't smoke. If you smoke, ask your doctor to help you quit. Also avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Steer clear of pollutants. Minimize exposure to chemicals and outdoor air pollution.
  • Prevent respiratory infections. Wash your hands often and get a yearly flu vaccine. Ask your doctor whether you need a pneumonia vaccine as well.

The bottom line

It's important to understand the common health risks that women face, but don't feel intimidated. Instead, do whatever you can to lead a healthy lifestyle — including eating a healthy diet, staying physically active, quitting smoking and getting regular checkups. Simple preventive measures can go a long way toward reducing your health risks.

Aug. 17, 2013 See more In-depth