Lung diseases are some of the most common medical conditions in the world. Tens of millions of people suffer from lung disease in the U.S. Smoking, infections, and genetics are responsible for most lung diseases.
The lungs are part of a complex apparatus, expanding and relaxing thousands of times each day to bring in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. Lung disease can result from problems in any part of this system.
Whether you directly inhale smoke or get it from secondhand smoke, cigarette smoke accelerates the damage already going on in the lungs. Avoiding smoke slows the damage and actually slows the progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
In addition, when you quit smoking, you lower the risk for you and those around you of other serious health problems like heart disease.
Quitting cigarettes can make the difference between living longer and well - and not living at all. That’s especially true now that COPD is a part of your life. The good news is smoking is a risk factor you can control. Here’s how.
1. Set a Date to Quit Smoking
If you want to quit smoking, it helps to set a quit date, says Lindy Wolfenden, MD. Wolfenden is an assistant professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. She is also director of the outpatient pulmonary function laboratory at Emory Clinic. Setting a date to quit formalizes the attempt to quit. And while it may still take several attempts, the likelihood of permanently quitting goes up with each attempt you make.
When you choose a date to quit smoking, make it one when it is less likely you’ll have added stress. Stress is a major roadblock to any behavioral change. That’s especially true when you try to quit smoking.
Mark the quit date on your calendar. Experts recommend that as it approaches you stay mentally and emotionally focused on this date as a time for new beginnings and better health.
2. Expect to Feel Miserable
When you first quit smoking, it will be rough. You might feel miserable, irritable, even depressed. But according to the American Lung Association, nicotine clears out of the system quickly. It is usually in the undetectable range within 24 hours after someone quits.
For a few weeks, you might feel hungrier than normal. You may want to eat snacks all day long -- anything to occupy your hands and mouth. Once you get past the first few days, though, you will begin to feel more in control.
Keep sugarless gum or hard candy in your pocket during this time as a short-term “fix” when you crave a cigarette.