Asthma and Smoking
This probably isn't the first time you've heard that asthma and smoking don't go very well together. But you may not realize that quitting smoking when you have asthma is the most important step you can take to protect your lungs and prevent symptoms of asthma.
Why Should I Quit Smoking?
You've probably heard how smoking can be harmful to your asthma and health overall -- as well as the health of those around you. Here are some ways quitting can be helpful. If you quit, you will:
- Likely prolong your life.
- Improve your health. Smoking increases your risk of lung cancer, throat cancer, a lung disease called emphysema (also known as COPD), heart disease, high blood pressure, ulcers, gum disease, and makes asthma worse.
- Feel healthier. Smoking can cause coughing, poor athletic ability, and sore throats.
- Look better. Smoking can cause face wrinkles, stained teeth, and dull skin.
- Improve your sense of taste and smell.
- Save money.
How Can I Quit Smoking?
There's no single way to quit smoking that works for everyone with asthma. A smoking cessation program may be helpful to you. Ask your doctor about smoking cessation programs in your community.
Before you quit all at once ("cold turkey"), setting a plan will help:
- Pick a date to stop smoking, and then prepare for it.
- Record when and why you smoke. You will come to know what triggers you to smoke.
- Record what you do when you smoke. Try smoking at different times and different places to break the connections between smoking and certain activities.
- List your reasons for quitting. Read over the list before and after you quit.
- Find activities to replace smoking. Be ready to do something else when you want to smoke.
- Ask your doctor about using nicotine replacement products such as gum, lozenges, and patches. Some people find these aids very helpful. Nicotine-free prescription medications, like Chantix and Zyban, can also help you quit smoking.
Quitting Time: Day One
On the day you pick to quit, start that morning without a cigarette. Then follow these helpful tips:
- Don't focus on what you are missing. Think about what you are gaining.
- Tell yourself you are a great person for quitting. Remind yourself of this when you want a smoke.
- When you get the urge to smoke, take a deep breath. Hold it for 10 seconds and then release it slowly.
- Keep your hands busy. Doodle, play a sport, knit, or work on a computer.
- Change activities that were connected to smoking. Take a walk or read a book instead of taking a cigarette break.
- Don't carry a lighter, matches, or cigarettes.
- Go to places that don't allow smoking, such as museums and libraries.
- Eat low-calorie, healthful foods when the urge to smoke strikes. Carrot and celery sticks, fresh fruits, and fat-free snacks are good choices. Avoid sugary or spicy foods that may lead to cigarette craving.
- Drink a lot of fluids. Avoid alcoholic drinks. They can make you want to smoke. Select water, herbal teas, caffeine-free soft drinks, and juices.
- Exercise. Exercising will help you relax.
- Hang out with non-smokers.
- Seek support for quitting. Tell others about your milestones with pride.