How to quit smoking: The Great American Smokeout
In an age when so much is known about the dangers of cigarettes and other tobacco products, it may seem surprising how many people are still struggling to stay away from smoking.
Whether people who have grown up in a time when less is known about the bad effects of smoking, or younger people–who can’t think of such a negative impact–are often prone to misconceptions and peer pressure. the potential to turn one cigarette into a lifelong experience with fatal events.
“I think patients and their families are often surprised at the severity of the consequences,” said Dr. Bryce Ferguson, pulmonary and critical care physician and director of the intensive care unit (ICU) at St George’s Regional Hospital. “It may also be undeniable that, although they smoked for years and years, they experience a health problem, years of cigarette exposure.”
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Dr. Ferguson said he’ll never forget the look of terror in one of the patient’s eyes while he was attempting to breathe.
“When you can’t breathe, it doesn’t matter,” Dr. Ferguson said. “Imagine what it felt like to take a deep breath, but then only about 20 percent of the air can breathe.” You do both over and over again. Soon it is extremely annoying that your lungs are completely full and can’t be relieved by exhalation.”
Dr. Ferguson often describes ideal lung function like a balloon. Air enters and then goes out. However, patients experiencing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) have lungs like whoopee cushions. Air enters, but the windows are floppy and fall down, blocking the air supply.
Immediately after changing the structure of the whole body to adapt to the expanded lungs. Ferguson said.
And smoking is just one of the risks people face.
Other health issues include shortness of breath, emphysema, cancer and vascular diseases that lead to an increased incidence of strokes, heart attack, and kidney disease, said Dr. Ferguson.
“Poor people generally think that they are invincible. I don’t think that’s going to happen to them,” Dr. Ferguson said.
That false sense of security may partly be due to the fact that the bad side effects of smoking a cigarette don’t typically manifest up to years after the patient begins smoking, which can still be a problem even if the person manages to quit.
“The damage that happens to the lungs is irreversible,” Ferguson said. “People think that their lungs are quiet and healthy, but they don’t regenerate a diseased lung from smoke.”
Besides, it’s better to leave than to generate even more damage, although someone who tells you about the process is hard to give up on a cigarette.
“He’s on his way home!” Dr. Ferguson said. “I had patients addicted to hard drugs like cocaine and heroin, and say they quit smoking more than any other drugs.”
Methods that were originally restricted to ways to stop smoking, such as e-cigarettes, have also proven to be addictive, Dr. Ferguson said. “Some people say that smoking is much safer than smoking cigarettes, but they don’t realize that the bad effects of vapor appear much more acutely than the lasting effects of smoke.”
Public-conscious campaigns, like the Big American Smokeout in November, provide opportunities for those who are accustomed to helping kick off. Log in to www.cancer.org for more information about leaving.
This Live Well column represents a collaboration between health professionals and the staff of our internal health care professionals and the non-health professions and everyday news.