Smoking and COPD: Commit to Quit

man enjoying a walk and fresh air in nature.

We’re all acutely aware of the dangers of smoking, but if you’re dealing with other health conditions, it can also greatly impact your ability to effectively manage those conditions. If you have diabetes, smoking can worsen chronic conditions, like diabetes-related eye problems, blood vessel issues, foot problems, nerve damage, and more. Smoking is also a road that can lead to heart disease, in addition to bladder, kidney, lung, or pancreatic cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Sometimes called chronic bronchitis or emphysema, COPD (the third leading cause of death in the U.S.) is a debilitating inflammation and thickening of the lungs’ airways that destroys the tissue where oxygen is exchanged. The harder it becomes to get rid of carbon dioxide waste, the harder it is to breathe. While other factors can contribute to COPD — from air pollution, dust, fumes, and workplace chemicals, to heredity — 85 to 90 percent of all COPD cases are caused by cigarette smoking and the 7,000-plus chemicals that are released into the lungs by a burning cigarette.

  • Pick a way with your doctor to quit smoking (“cold turkey,” product aids, or cutting back gradually).
  • Set a “quit” deadline. Assign a date with personal meaning, so you’ll stick with it.
  • Remove temptation. Get rid of ashtrays and cigarettes from your car, home, and work.
  • Work up to walking 30 minutes per day, five days per week to boost energy and metabolism, plus manage cravings.
  • Build a support network of family and friends.

About 12 million people are diagnosed with COPD in the U.S., and 120,000 die from it each year. While medication and therapies can help manage COPD, commit to quit smoking now, so you don’t have to live with it — or the other life-threatening diseases smoking causes.

By Lisa Miceli Feliciano

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