How can I stay healthy with alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency?
If you have alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, there are a number of things you can do to help keep yourself healthy.
If you’re a smoker, stop smoking
This is essential to slow down the development of COPD and improve symptoms. Stopping smoking is both prevention and treatment. You should be offered help to quit if needed. If not, ask for it.
Avoid being regularly exposed to irritants such as dust and gas
If you’re exposed to irritants, for example at work, this might cause COPD to develop faster.
Avoid getting chest infections and colds
If you have AATD, chest infections can cause your lungs to become damaged more quickly. If you have a cough that produces mucus or phlegm you should see your doctor as you probably have an infection. You may need a course of steroids and, if your phlegm is a different colour (green or yellow) or a thicker consistency than usual, you may also be given a course of antibiotics. Stay away from friends or family when they have chest infections or colds.
Get a flu jab every year. This will help you avoid chest infections. Ask your doctor about having a one-off vaccination against pneumonia.
Lead a healthy lifestyle
Keep an eye on your alcohol intake
There’s no need to avoid alcohol completely but it’s wise to keep to the safe drinking guidance – less than 14 units spread throughout a week. You might have blood tests and scans to keep an eye on your liver.
If you have any more questions, our friendly helpline team are also there for a chat. Call 0300 222 5800.
Alpha-1 UK support groups
You can find support from these groups for people with alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, their families and carers: