Smoking was once part of America’s favorite pastimes. People smoked everywhere – in restaurants, in airplanes, in the workplace, et cetera. However, the trend started to dwindle as researchers began to uncover mountains of evidence linking smoking to many dangerous health conditions.
In particular, long-term smoke inhalation increases your chances of getting COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), which is an incurable lung condition that can worsen your quality of life. Let’s talk about how COPD relates to smoking, the harmful effects of smoking, and what you can do to keep yourself healthy.
Respiratory Problems from Smoking
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a group of respiratory conditions which progressively lead to worsening lung function and trouble breathing. It causes damage through two main conditions: emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
In a healthy lung, small clusters of air sacs called alveoli function to exchange gases, like oxygen and carbon dioxide, between your blood and the lung. As you breathe, the alveoli contract and expand – so the tissues that comprise them need to be flexible and resilient. In emphysema, this elasticity is reduced or lost, thereby preventing the alveoli from contracting when you exhale.
Patients with emphysema aren’t unable to exhale fully, so they experience difficulty in their overall breathing. Smoking is one of the main reasons why people develop emphysema.
COPD, Lung Infections, and Cancer
Typically, many layers of defense protect the respiratory system from pathogens, given that the lungs and airways are constantly exposed to the outside environment. However, COPD destroys many of these defensive layers and makes it harder for the immune system to take action. Smoking literally barrages the sensitive lung tissues with cancerous pathogens.
In addition, infections can further reduce the ability of your respiratory system to function if you have COPD. Even a common cold can make it significantly harder to breathe by creating more mucus and inflammation.
Chronic inflammation from COPD may lead to a higher risk of developing lung cancer. Cigarette smoke contains multiple carcinogenic (cancer-causing) compounds, some of which can remain in your lungs as part of the deposited tar.
COPD and Cardiovascular Problems
COPD also comes with a higher risk of heart failure. With COPD, the heart cannot adequately supply oxygen-rich blood to the various parts of the body. Some signs of cardiovascular issues include lack of energy, swelling in your ankles and feet, and a bluish tint forming on your lips and nail beds.
People with COPD may develop pulmonary hypertension, which is high blood pressure inside the arteries going into your lungs. Nicotine – one of the main components of cigarette smoke – increases high blood pressure and stiffens blood vessels. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to further cardiovascular problems such as a heart attack and stroke.
COPD Treatment in North Texas
COPD is an insidious lung disease that has no cure, but there is a lot that can be done to stop disease development and to alleviate the symptoms. Quitting smoking should be the primary goal of smokers who have COPD. Talk to a lung specialist about treatments to help stifle the effects of COPD.
At our facilities in Weatherford, Texas, the Lung & Sleep Specialists of North Texas will help you live a healthy and comfortable lifestyle. If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our skilled physicians, call us today at (817) 594-9993 or request an appointment now via our online form. We look forward to seeing you here.