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Lung diseases

Bronchitis

11/09/2009

Question:

I am on medications for my ra that surpress my immune system. I get the flu shot every year and I am going to get the H1N1 vaccine next week. Last year I had bronchitis three times and it was the first times that I ever had it. I work in a building with alot of people so it is hard to avoid people that are sick. I do alot of handwashing too. Is there any thing that I can do to avoid getting bronchitis again this year?

Answer:

You are doing one of the most important steps by getting regular influenza vaccinations. For patients who are getting medications that can suppress the immune system, several other things can be done. First, washing hands regularly (or better, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) is important. Second, checking the IgG (antibody) level in the blood is important since some immunosuppressant medications can lower IgG levels making persons more prone to infection. Third, physicians will sometimes use preventative antibiotics in patients taking some immunosuppressant medications; for example, a sulfa antibiotic is often given 3 days a week in patients who are taking more than 20 mg/day of prednisone. Fourth, if you are a smoker, then stop smoking.

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Response by:

James N Allen, Jr, MD James N Allen, Jr, MD
Clinical Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University