“My grandfather smoked cigarettes his whole life and he lived to 100”
I am sure you’ve heard this at some point.
BUT, I would argue that……..
“Your grandfather could have lived to 120 if he hadn’t smoked!”
Here’s why: This video demonstrates what happens when you stop smoking.
Stop using your grandfather as an excuse to continue smoking. Why?
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide. Tobacco use causes nearly 6 million deaths per year. I could go on and on about why you shouldn’t smoke, but that’s not the point of this article. This article is meant to:
- introduce to you a disease called COPD – which you will likely get if you do not stop smoking
- help you initiate your “exit strategy” to smoking
What is COPD and what causes it?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) is an umbrella term for a group of lung diseases that cause airflow blockage and prevent proper breathing. And to state the obvious, the most common cost of COPD is …………smoking! About one in four long-term smokers will get chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), if you live long enough. But oh well, if you’re lucky, you will still be able to live to 100 like your grandfather.
What are the symptoms of COPD?
Some people do not experience any symptoms during the early stages of COPD while some experience only mild symptoms such as:
- Shortness of breath, especially during physical activities
- Wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe)
- Chest tightness
- Lack of energy
As COPD symptoms worsen, you may experience:
- Difficulty catching your breath
- Difficulty talking or complete your sentences
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Very fast heartbeat
- Swelling in the ankles, feet or legs
- Weight loss
How is COPD managed?
- Non-medicine management
- Smoking cessation
- Pulmonary rehabilitation and exercise training
- Breathing strategies
- Vaccination – Annual influenza vaccine and up-to-date pneumococcal vaccine
- Self-management education and information on where to access support groups
- GP management plan and Home Medicines Review
International guidelines recommend use of monotherapy (one medicine) or dual therapy (two medicines) for COPD management. Some patients make require triple therapy to achieve adequate control. These medicines include the long-acting beta-agonists (LABAs), long-acting muscarinic antagonists (LAMAs) or combination products of LABAs and LAMAs to optimise function. If you still remember LABA, these are also used to treat asthma in both adults and children. So please be rest assured that your child does not have COPD. However, children with severe asthma may have a much higher risk of developing COPD later in life. Make sure they do not smoke!
Note: Always consult your doctor or pharmacist prior to starting any treatment.
Here are some tips to help you quit smoking:
- Start planning your smoking “exit strategy”. You can either quit smoking cold turkey (stopping all at once) or quit gradually.
- List all your reasons to quit smoking – refer to this list every time you feel like you are on the verge of falling off the wagon.
- Stop buying cartons of cigarettes. You are less likely to smoke if you don’t have any!
- Stay away from second-hand smoke – i.e. stay away from people who smoke (even if you are really attracted to them). This will help reduce your cravings.
- If a craving hits, distract yourself e.g. go for a movie, do some outdoor activities, hand out with your friends (at a smoke-free zone), wash your car etc.
- If you relapse, start again. Not giving up means you will never fail.
- Get help and support from healthcare professionals. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist today about programmes and products that can help you quit.
1) Vogelmeier CF, Criner GJ, Martinez FJ, et al. Global Strategy for the Diagnosis, Management, and Prevention of Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease 2017 Report. GOLD Executive Summary. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 2017;195(5):557-582.
2) Yang IA DE, George J, Jenkins S, McDonald CF, McDonald V, Smith B, Zwar N. The COPD-X Plan: Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for the management of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 2017. Version 2.50. 2017; http://copdx.org.au/copd-x-plan/. Accessed 1 February, 2018.
3) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and COPD. 2017;
https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/copd.html/. Accessed 1 February, 2018.