It isn't a secret that smoking is bad for you. But did you know it’s the leading cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and symptom flare-ups? As an experienced osteopathic physician, Dr. Rimma Gelbert can help you quit smoking to protect your overall health.
If you smoke and already have COPD, she can develop a personalized care plan to help you quit so you can better manage your symptoms long term. Here’s what you need to know about COPD and smoking.
When you have COPD, you have a chronic disease causing inflammation in your lungs that interferes with airflow and causes breathing problems. There are two primary types of COPD, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. If you have COPD, you often have a combination of both conditions.
COPD causes a variety of symptoms, including:
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath, especially during activity
- A chronic cough, often with mucus
- Lots of throat-clearing in the morning because of excessive mucus
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Blue-tinged fingernails or lips
- Swollen legs, ankles, or feet
- Unintended weight loss
- Lack of energy
In most cases, COPD symptoms worsen with time, especially if you continue smoking.
Smoking and COPD
Smoking is to blame for most cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and symptom flare-ups. Nearly 16 million American adults have COPD, and 38% are current smokers. Smoking also accounts for 8 in 10 COPD-related deaths.
Each time you breathe, air passes through your windpipe and into your lungs by way of two large tubes known as bronchi. Once the air reaches your lungs, your bronchi continue dividing numerous times — like branches in a tree — before ending in tiny clusters of air sacs. These air sacs contain blood vessels that absorb oxygen from the air you breathe, which passes into your bloodstream.
At the same time, your lungs exhale carbon dioxide, a waste product. Inhaling cigarette smoke — including secondhand smoke, cigars, pipes, and hookahs — damages these airways, the lining of your lungs, and your air sacs. As a result, your lungs lose their elasticity. This causes them to over-expand when you inhale and keeps them from fully emptying when you exhale.
You can lower your risk of COPD by never starting to smoke or by quitting immediately if you already do. Even smoking or secondhand smoke exposure when you’re a child or teenager can increase your chances of COPD as an adult.
Why it’s important to quit smoking
It’s easy to think that it’s not worth quitting smoking if you already have COPD. However, when you continue smoking with COPD, your lungs can sustain even more damage faster than if you quit. In fact, the most important thing you can do to protect your lungs and keep your symptoms under control is to stop smoking and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
If you smoke, Dr. Gelbert can work with you to develop a personalized treatment strategy to help you quit. The strategy might include:
- Medication therapy
- Nicotine replacement options
- Counseling, classes, or support groups
- Avoiding exposure to cigarette smoke at home, work, restaurants, or bars
There isn’t a cure for COPD, but quitting smoking can significantly help as part of your treatment plan.
For more information on COPD management and smoking cessation, contact us at our convenient location in Brooklyn, New York. Call our office at 347-354-2742 today, or use our online booking feature. You can also send a message to Dr. Gelbert and the team here on our website.