Effect of Smoking and the Connection to COPD
In order to understand how COPD and smoking are related, you must first understand the effect that COPD has on the lungs. When the lungs experience an excessive buildup of mucus or the lungs have lost elasticity, COPD is often the direct result. It gradually becomes more difficult for the airways to transport air to and from the lungs.
Most people who have COPD also have both emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Mucus buildup happens when the lungs’ bronchial tubes become inflamed and narrowed from chronic bronchitis. This leads to a persistent cough and an increase risk for infections in the lung. The air sacs inside the lungs might also become lose their elasticity and become “floppy.” This inhibits airflow and is usually the cause of emphysema.
The Link Between Smoking and COPD
As you breathe, air travels via your windpipe. While inhaling, the air makes its way down through the windpipe and into the bronchial tubes. As the bronchial tubes descend into the lung, they branch out into smaller tubes. At the end of the tubes are air sacs known as alveoli.
The air sacs’ walls contain capillaries, or small blood vessels. When oxygen reaches the air sacs, it enters the walls and capillaries. At the same moment, carbon dioxide exits the air sac walls and is exhaled back out through the body. This is known as “gas exchange.”
This exchange is made possible with healthy elasticity of the lungs. As elasticity is lost through lung damage, it becomes harder for this process to occur. Therefore, it is harder for the person to breathe. As the lungs are continuously exposed to irritants, especially cigarette smoke, over a long period of time, this process will gradually become even harder. Without treatment, and even in severe cases, this condition can even become life-threatening.
Is Damage from Cigarettes Reversible?
There is unfortunately no known cure for COPD. This means that damage inflicted on the lungs can’t be erased, cured, or reversed. This is why it’s so important to quit smoking as early as possible in life.
Symptoms of COPD are controllable with lifestyle changes, drugs, and therapy. If the condition is managed appropriately, its progress can be dramatically slowed. In fact, virtually total relief is possible through diligent care and attention. The best course of action for preventing COPD and helping existing cases is to quit smoking altogether. Likewise, those who do not already smoke should avoids others who do. Secondhand smoke has also been shown to provoke symptoms of COPD.
Continuing to smoke is one of the most effective ways to ensure that the disease develops at a rapid rate and causes premature death. If you need help, talk to your doctor today about options and treatment methods for quitting smoking. Remember; a cigarette is not worth your life.