Smoking is a dangerous habit to pick up, whether one is suffering from a disease or not. This habit can not only lead someone to be diagnosed with several diseases but can also trigger and worsen any underlying health issues. Smoking and COPD are often talked about in the same sentence, thus it is pivotal that we understand the impact that smoking has on COPD.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a respiratory condition that is characterized by limited airflow. It includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, and smoking cigarettes, bidis, hookahs, and tobacco is the primary cause of a significant number of cases. Smoking has a profound impact on COPD as it plays a detrimental role in the development and progression of the disease.
Dr. Inder Mohan Chugh, Senior Director, Pulmonology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, says, “Smoking is the leading cause of COPD. The harmful substances in tobacco smoke trigger inflammation and irritation in the airways, leading to chronic bronchitis characterized by persistent cough and mucus production. Additionally, smoke damages the lung tissue, contributing to emphysema, where the air sacs lose their elasticity, impairing proper airflow. This dual mechanism intensifies the severity of COPD, causing a progressive decline in lung function over time.”
He further added, “The continued exposure to tobacco smoke worsens COPD symptoms and accelerates disease progression. Smokers with COPD experience more frequent and severe complications, characterized by sudden worsening of symptoms like increased shortness of breath and cough. These further contribute to a faster decline in lung function, reduced quality of life, and an increased risk of hospitalization.”
Dr Nikhil Modi, Senior Consultant, Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, notes, “The greatest significant risk factor for COPD is smoking. Individuals who smoke or have a history of smoking are much more likely to acquire COPD than nonsmokers. Cigarette smoking hastens the course of COPD. It causes increased inflammation, mucus production, and damage to the air sacs in the lungs, making breathing difficult.”
“Smoking has been shown to impair the effectiveness of COPD therapy. Medications and therapy for COPD symptoms may be less effective in people who continue to smoke. Smokers with COPD are more prone to exacerbations, which are episodes of deteriorating symptoms and lung function. Exacerbations can result in hospitalizations and a deterioration in general health,” he added.
It is imperative that COPD patients quit smoking in order to significantly reduce their risk of death and slow down the progression of the disease.
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