What is COPD?
COPD is the umbrella term for serious lung conditions that include chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Smoking is the main cause of COPD and is thought to be responsible for around 9 in every 10 cases.
People with COPD have difficulties breathing, primarily due to the narrowing of their airways and destruction of lung tissue. Typical symptoms include breathlessness when active, a persistent cough and frequent chest infections.
Once you are diagnosed with COPD, your healthcare provider will strongly suggest that you quit smoking to slow down the progression of your lung disease. In fact, smoking cessation is the most effective strategy for preventing further decline.
Smokers can often dismiss the early signs of COPD as a ‘smoker’s cough’, but if they continue smoking and the condition worsens, it can greatly impact on their quality of life. Large numbers of people with COPD are unable to participate in everyday activities such as climbing stairs, housework or gardening; with many even unable take a holiday because of their disease.
What causes COPD?
The main cause is smoking, although the condition can sometimes affect people who have never smoked. The likelihood of developing COPD increases the more you smoke and the longer you’ve smoked. Some cases of COPD are caused by long-term exposure to harmful fumes or dust.
With COPD, less air flows through the airways—the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs—because of one or more of the following:
- The airways and tiny air sacs in the lungs lose their ability to stretch and shrink back.
- The walls between many of the air sacs are destroyed.
- The walls of the airways become thick and inflamed (irritated and swollen).
- The airways make more mucus than usual, which can clog them and block airflow.
In the early stages of COPD, there may be no symptoms, or you may only have mild symptoms. As COPD worsens, the symptoms may become more severe. Symptoms of COPD include:
- A cough that lingers for a long time and doesn’t go away completely, or a cough that produces a lot of mucus
- Shortness of breath, especially with physical activity
- Wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe)
- Tightness in the chest
How severe your COPD symptoms are depends on how much lung damage you have. If you continue smoking, the damage will occur faster than if you stop smoking.
What are the 4 stages of COPD?
There are four distinct stages of COPD: mild, moderate, severe, and very severe. Your physician will determine your stage based on results from a breathing test called a spirometry, which assesses lung function by measuring how much air you can breathe in and out and how quickly and easily you can exhale.
Can COPD be reversed?
There’s currently no cure for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but treatment can help slow the progression of the condition and control the symptoms.
- stopping smoking – if you have COPD and you smoke, this is the most important thing you can do
- inhalers and tablets – to help make breathing easier
- pulmonary rehabilitation – a specialised programme of exercise and education
What is the prognosis of COPD?
Depending on the disease severity, the five-year life expectancy for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) ranges from 40%-70%. That means 40-70 out of 100 people will be alive after five years of diagnosis of COPD.
COPD is a chronic, gradually progressing lung disease that is not completely curable. Timely medical treatments can slow the progression of this disease.
Nearly 30,000 people die from COPD each year, making it the second greatest cause of death from lung disease and the UK’s fifth biggest killer.
How many people with COPD still smoke?
Approximately 38% of adults diagnosed with COPD continue to smoke.
Smoking cessation is an important part of managing COPD and of preventing the disease from worsening. People who have COPD and continue to smoke are more likely to need higher medication doses, use urgent rescue inhalers, have more exacerbations, and experience an overall worsening of the disease and a decline in health.
Lung function declines naturally with age, but stopping smoking will slow the decline.
The best time to quit smoking once you are diagnosed with COPD is as soon as possible.
Why are people using e-cigarettes to quit?
Many people would want to turn to their local NHS service or GP for help to stop smoking, and for many people, this option helps them to kick the habit. However, many NHS services are reducing access to clinically-effective prescription drugs to replace nicotine addiction, so people who want to stop smoking may find that the help they need isn’t available in their local health service and simply doesn’t meet their needs.
It is in these circumstances that the use of e-cigarettes could save someone’s life. They contain much fewer harmful chemicals that damage the lungs and at much lower levels than cigarettes. Using them instead of conventional tobacco products could therefore help someone quit smoking.
Evidence suggests that e-cigarettes can help when all other methods of nicotine replacement therapy have failed to help someone beat their addiction.
Source: The British Lung Foundation
So if you or someone you know have COPD and tried and failed in quitting smoking using conventional methods e-cigarettes should be considered. Vaping is considered 95% safer than tobacco smoking and people who switch from tobacco to e-cigarettes / vaping experience less flare-ups and improved lung function.
Using e-cigarettes / vaping means you don’t have to quit suddenly which many smokers feel overwhelming and it replicates smoking without the life shortening diseases. Of course quitting altogether is the ideal but e-cigarettes are a great stepping stone on your way to quitting and are also proven the most effective smoking cessation tool.
You can find support and help quitting smoking here;
As someone who has been diagnosed with COPD for 10 years I can talk from lived experience. I’d tried to quit before and failed. That is before I discovered disposable vapes and I can say hand on heart it really wasn’t that difficult to quit, I have now been smoke-free for over a year, not ad a single flare-up, I no longer cough until my ribs hurt and my oxygen levels have increased.
With limitations on what I can do I decided to start Squire Vape Co to pass on my knowledge to you and give you hope.
I hope my experience encourages you to quit smoking whether or not you have COPD and can work with you to help you quit. The main thing is to not quit quitting!