In COPD, the lungs are permanently damaged. Very often smoking is the reason. It attacks the cells of the lungs, causing shortness of breath and coughing. Treatment should alleviate symptoms. Slow the progression of COPD. Several medications are used to achieve this. Exercise also helps a lot. But: the most important and effective thing is that you stop smoking.
Talk to your doctor if you are ready to quit smoking. Ask about appropriate support services.
Why tobacco smoke is harmful in COPD?
It damages the lungs in several ways: smoking impedes the self-cleaning of the lungs and irritates the airways. This causes more mucus to form in the lungs. This leads to inflammation. In addition, smoking is the main reason for developing COPD: Tobacco smoke is responsible for COPD in about 9 out of 10 people with the disease. And one in two older smokers will develop the disease. COPD causes shortness of breath, coughing and mucus production. Smoking increases these symptoms and causes COPD to progress more quickly.
Does it really help if I stop smoking?
People who continue to smoke despite having COPD can expect a worse course of the disease. We know from several large studies: People who manage to stop smoking when they have COPD reap many benefits: they are less likely to experience sudden episodes of worsening and less likely to need to be hospitalized for it. Fewer people die from COPD. In addition, symptoms such as shortness of breath or coughing improve.
And if I smoke less?
A large study has shown that it does not make much difference to the function of the lungs whether you smoke 5 cigarettes a day or more than 30. But if you stop altogether, your lung function lasts longer. That's why experts strongly recommend quitting smoking completely if you have COPD.
Quitting is not easy – what can help me??
People who smoke are not only physically addicted to nicotine, but also psychologically accustomed to smoking. That's why most people need support to quit smoking. The first important step is to talk to your doctor. Because there are effective offers of help. Even if you do not actively address smoking on your own: The doctor will point you to these offers of help. Not to annoy you, but because quitting smoking is the most effective measure against COPD. Combination treatment is the best way to help:
Behavioral therapy teaches you ways out of the everyday habit of smoking.
Nicotine replacement, for example patches, sprays or chewing gum, or medications such as varenicline or bupropion support quitting nicotine.
Experts recommend this combination to all smokers with COPD.
There may be reasons why prolonged behavioral therapy is not possible. Then experts recommend shorter counseling and support services as a second choice. Because these can also help to stop smoking.