Smoking is a leading cause of preventable COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). The pulmonary disease is caused by multiple chemicals used in the manufacturing of cigarettes and vaping products and polluted air environments. COPD is a disease by which breathing becomes very difficult. Once the disease has progressed to an acute to chronic condition it significantly shortens the lung tissue lifespan, increases risk of infection and a lifetime dependency on supplemental oxygen and other medical intervention.
The National Cancer Institute cites there are over 4,000 chemicals released from tobacco smoke. The tar and other chemical by-products that enters the body also includes poisonous arsenic and cyanide! The American Lung Association shows each year ~400,000 Americans die from lung disease. There are 35 million more Americans in any given year that are now living with chronic lung disease! Regardless of increasing education over the last decade on the number one cause of lung disease, smoking and vaporing consumption among our youth is as strong as ever.
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Nicotine has the addictive power of heroin and cocaine (Dr. C. Everett Koop, Surgeon General).
“Using data from a large federal government telephone survey of adults, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers report evidence that inhaling heated tobacco vapor through e-cigarettes was linked to increased odds of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), conditions long demonstrated to be caused by smoking traditional, combustible cigarettes. The data, the researchers say, also suggest that odds of developing COPD may be as much as six times greater when people report they both vape and smoke tobacco regularly, compared with those who don’t use any tobacco products at all.”[John Hopkins Medicine 2020]
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How does smoking and vaping ruin the lungs? “All smoke contains carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and particulate matter (PM or soot)” [Google 2021]. Whereas long term smoking or toxic environmental exposure damages the lungs air-sacs. There are other environmental PM or soot factors that can put you at risk. 1) Chemical Fumes. 2) Dust 3) Air Pollution 4) Secondhand smoke.
After years of one or more element exposures, it can take years for this disease to present itself. COPD is most found in people 60 and over, those that have had lung infections as a child, or emphysema in their 30-40’s, or within families whereas this disease manifested itself [genetics].
COPD Symptoms – Chronic cough and/or mucus when coughing, shortness of breath, especially during exercise. As the lung disease progresses exacerbation flare ups can be mild to life threatening by suffocation or drowning in mucus fluids.
“Tiny air sacs at the end of the bronchioles (tiny branches of air tubes in the lungs). The alveoli are where the lungs and the blood exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide during the process of breathing in and breathing out.”[Cancer.gov]
Image by National Cancer Institute
Many tobacco and e-cig smokers do not believe their habits impact anyone else but themselves. However, the American Heart Association secondhand mortality statistics tell a different story. Secondhand smoke is directly responsible for 37,000-40,000 cardiovascular and 3,400 fatal lung cancer victims per year.
And according to the American Cancer Society, secondhand smoke is responsible for over 150,000 lung infections and 750,000 middle ear infections within our children each year. There are basically two diseases associated with COPD.
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1) Chronic Bronchitis – When airways that carry oxygen from the lungs to the body get inflamed producing mucus, this makes it hard to breath.
2) Emphysema – The lungs air sacs become inefficient at intake and pushing air. Once the air sacs become damaged the body begins to starve and die for lack of oxygen-enriched blood. Once emphysema becomes an acute to chronic condition, feeling short of breath and suffocation is a common experience. Over time COPD conditions worsen and disease become permanent. However, there are steps that can be taken to stop further damage to the lungs and body.
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If you experience COPD Symptoms – Advisement Recommendations
-See a physician to seek treatment to quit smoking, or have a cough that will not go away, or consistently cough up mucus.
-Smokers Cessation Medication is available and will boost your chance 50% to help you quit smoking for good (American Cancer Society).
-Ask a physician for other tests if you suspect exposure to environmental pollutants… especially if you were a nonsmoker, or smoked very little but now have COPD.
-Have a doctor listen to your lungs and apply a spirometry breathing and other pulmonary/blood tests to determine the best medical treatment for you.
-Request chest X-rays to rule out other potential problems, or pathologies caused by years of smoking, vaping or toxic environment exposure.
Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET. 2021 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: www.mirrorathlete.org, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.