Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency

How can I stay healthy with alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency?

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.

Stay away from friends or family when they have chest infections or colds. If you have AATD, chest infections can cause your lungs to become damaged more quickly. If you have a cough that produces green mucus or phlegm you should see your doctor as you probably have an infection and need a course of antibiotics.

Make sure you get a flu jab every year. This will help you avoid chest infections.

Ask your doctor about getting vaccinated against pneumonia.

Lead a healthy lifestyle to help you manage your symptoms. This includes eating a balanced diet, managing your weight and getting regular exercise

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 per week.

We have more information on lung conditions caused by alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency. Read about COPD and bronchiectasis and find advice on coping with breathlessness.

If you have any more questions, our friendly helpline team are also there for a chat. Call 03000 030 555.

Alpha-1 UK support groups

You can find support from these groups for people with alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, their families and carers:

Download our AATD PDF (394KB)

Last medically reviewed: September 2017. Due for review: September 2020

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.