Cigarette Smoke Is Hazardous to Your Health
Do you remember when smoking cigarettes was a cool thing to do and the harmful affects were not even thought about? Today when I see patients who are still smoking or have smoked for years I cringe at what their lungs might look like.
I recently treated a patient, now 75 years old for a condition known as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). He had been smoking for many years and over time the tobacco smoke had irritated his airways and destroyed the fibers in his lungs causing shortness of breath, wheezing, and tightness in his chest.
Unfortunately, the symptoms of COPD don’t appear until significant lung damage has occurred and they usually worsen as time goes by. In order to find out if you have COPD there are a number of things your doctor will do.
First on the list is a physical exam along with listening to your lungs. Background information will be needed to learn about your past health issues and whether you were exposed to other things that could irritate your lungs. You will also be given a chest X-ray and other breathing tests to find out how well your lungs are functioning and rule out other problems that could cause the same symptoms.
People with COPD may suddenly have flare ups during which their symptoms get much worse. This is what is referred to as exacerbations and they can range from mild to life-threatening episodes. The longer you have COPD the worse the flare ups will be. bongs for sale
Because of the severity of this condition, it is very important to find out as soon as possible if you think you might have COPD. The earlier it is detected the more time you will have to take steps to slow down the damage to your lungs.
Airway Obstruction to Blame for COPD
COPD refers to obstruction in the lungs and is often a mix of two chronic lung diseases. People with COPD may have one or both of the following conditions:
o Chronic bronchitis occurs when the airways that carry air to the lungs get inflamed and create mucus. It is characterized by an ongoing cough and the increased mucus production further narrows the bronchial tubes causing inflammation.
o Emphysema is a lung disease that causes inflammation within the walls of the alveoli. In a healthy person, tiny air sacs in the lungs are like balloons that get bigger and smaller to move air through your lungs. When you have emphysema these air sacs are damaged and lose their stretch. The result is the feeling that you are short of breath.
The cause of COPD is almost always due to cigarette smoking over a long period of time. But other types of smoke can also be an irritant such as cigar smoke, secondhand smoke, pipe smoke, pollution and certain types of chemical fumes. Acid reflux disease (GERD) may also aggravate COPD and may even cause it in some people.
COPD is most commonly seen in people over 60 because it takes years for lung damage to start causing symptoms. A number of serious lung infections as a child can also increase your risk of developing COPD.
The most important thing to do is quit smoking to slow the progression of COPD. It doesn’t matter how long or how much you smoke, you can help stop the damage to your lungs if you quit. I know it is hard to do but there are treatments that can help. Ask your doctor about medication and strategies to get you on a smoke free plan.