The Relation Between Smoking and COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic and progressive lung disease that includes bronchitis and emphysema. There is less air flow and breathing is difficult. The loss of elasticity in the lungs, damaged air sac walls, thick airway walls and mucus all block air flow. Early symptoms include a nagging cough, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.

The Relationship of Smoking and COPD

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, COPD is almost always caused by smoking, and smoking accounts for 99 percent of deaths related to COPD. Often, COPD occurs with a history of smoking and in people over 40 years of age. At the same time, one out of six people with this lung disease have never smoked. Symptoms are dependent on the extent of lung damage and worsen if smoking continues. In the United States, 39 percent of adults with COPD continue to smoke.

The Prevention and Treatment of COPD from Smoking

The best way to prevent this severe lung disease is to never start smoking. Those who smoke should consult a physician on products and programs that are geared for the successful cessation of smoking. Avoiding secondhand smoke is also important.

Depending on the stage of COPD, there are lifestyle changes and treatments for the management of this disease. Special meal plans with smaller portions, vitamin supplements and resting before meals may help those who experience difficulty eating due to shortness of breath or fatigue. Specific exercise plans can also be implemented to strengthen the breathing muscles.

Bronchodilators can be used to relax and open the airways. Most of these are used in combination with an inhaler. Inhaled steroids and oxygen therapy can help those COPD sufferers who have low levels of oxygen in the blood. Portable tanks can be used for easier mobility.

Lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) and lung transplant are options for those who have severe symptoms and do not get relief from other treatments. With LVRS, part of the diseased lung is surgically removed to enhance function of the healthier tissue. Typically, a lung transplant is the last resort, and COPD patients must be put on a lung transplant wait list.

Currently, there is no cure for COPD. Treatment and lifestyle changes can only help slow the progression of the disease.

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