Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is one of the deadliest diseases in America, but it also has clearly defined causes. An understanding of what causes COPD will allow you to take steps to prevent it. Clinical studies have shown that most cases are directly linked to long-term smokers. So, the best way to prevent COPD is to avoid smoking — or to quit smoking as soon as possible (please see our smoking cessation page).
If you’re a habitual smoker, then simply quitting may seem like a very daunting task — especially for those who have tried unsuccessfully to quit in the past. It isn’t easy, but you must work to stay committed. This is the best way to protect your lungs against permanent damage and a life crippled by the symptoms of COPD.
(If you are living with increased shortness of breath, then you may qualify for this COPD clinical trial in DeLand, FL.)
7 Reasons to Quit Smoking Now
Even for long-term smokers, there are several benefits to smoking cessation. Here are just a few:
- Improved heart rate and blood pressure
- Lowered levels of carbon monoxide in the body
- Lowered risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke
- Enhanced smell and taste
- Improved lung function
- Lowered risk of lung cancer
- Non-smokers tend to live 14 years longer on average
There are a variety of treatments available for COPD, and some medications could help people who want to quit smoking. Studies show that people can double their odds for success even if medicine is the only resource they use to quit. When combined with other cessation techniques like counseling, a person’s odds get significantly better.
People who have low levels of the protein alpha-1 antitrypsin are more likely to develop diseases of the lung and liver. In order to lower their risk for severe COPD, they can get routine injections of the protein obtained from donor plasma. This genetic deficiency is less common and only accounts for about 1 percent of all diagnosed cases of COPD.
Avoid Excess Exposure to Airborne Irritants
Another risk factor for this respiratory disease is occupational exposure to chemical fumes and other irritants. People who work in environments where this exposure is common should discuss these concerns with their supervisor. This dialogue should focus around certain steps that can be taken to protect themselves and coworkers, such as using protective respiratory equipment.
The following airborne irritants have all been linked to cases of COPD:
- Second hand smoke
- Air pollution
- Chemical fumes
Further Considerations for COPD Patients
If you have developed COPD, then you may want to consider getting vaccinated for the flu annually. Catching the flu can be very serious for patients with respiratory disease. Without this vaccination, a simple case of flu could turn into a life-threatening case of pneumonia.
Some research suggests that the flu vaccine could also lower a person’s risk of experiencing COPD flare-ups.
Getting a pneumococcal shot may be advisable as well. While most people only need one shot, you’ll want to discuss this with your doctor. They may recommend a second shot for patients who got their first one prior to turning 65. Just be sure you have a clear understanding of how these shots may interact with the drugs you are taking for COPD.