For people diagnosed with emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the importance of quitting smoking cannot be stressed enough. Smoking is the number one cause of COPD. Smoke is a lung irritant that causes inflammation and damage to the lung, specifically the air sacs that provide oxygen to the blood, and can prevent air from flowing in and out normally. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer in both men and women and increases the risk of death from chronic obstructive lung disease by 12 to 13 times.
While quitting cannot reverse the damage to the lung, it can prevent future damage from taking place and increase your quality of life and your body’s ability to fight the disease. That is because when people with COPD quit smoking, they slow down the process of deterioration in lung function, improve current lung function, decrease the symptoms associated with COPD and reduce the number of exacerbations.
According to the American Lung Association (ALA), after one to nine months of smoking cessation, people with COPD will also notice that their cough, sinus congestion, fatigue and shortness of breath have decreased.
Smokefree.gov notes that people who quit smoking feel better about themselves overall. They feel in charge because they don’t have the need to smoke and don’t have to worry about bothering others. Their hair, clothes and breath smell better. They can better smell food and other scents. They feel more relaxed because they don’t have to make sure that they always have cigarettes. They are not as worried about their health, and they look and feel better. Their skin looks healthier, and they have more energy to do the things that they love.
For people who have been diagnosed with emphysema and COPD, quitting smoking is one of the most important single steps you can take to slow down the progression of the disease. It’s never too late to quit smoking. The American Lung Association and Smokefree.gov provide a number of resources to help you in your journey to quit smoking.