Just when you thought smoking was as bad for you as it could possibly be, it appears it may actually be even worse. There are lots of reasons people smoke, not the least of which is that it is incredibly difficult to stop, but recent research suggests that that wheezing cough could be an early sign of something serious and deadly.
The smoker's cough might be a sign of
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD. COPD is a progressive lung ailment that makes it incredibly difficult to breathe. When cells are exposed to toxic substances for long periods of time, they get swollen. In the case of COPD, the cells get swollen to the point of blocking the airways. Early symptoms of COPD include, coughing, bringing up septum, and breathlessness.
Don't ignore that pesky cough!
A report by the Public Health England urges smokers not to ignore or dismiss a persistent cough since it could be the start of COPD and the cluster of illnesses that comes with it, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
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Lung cancer is often what dominates conversations about smoking but according the to World Health Organization, the number of deaths due to COPD has almost doubled in the last decade and the most significant increases has been seen in women. Despite this data, there is shockingly little information available and relatively little research going into medication and treatment options. The most frustrating thing about COPD for medical professionals is that the illness is almost entirely preventable. Some cases are due to genetics but the majority of cases are triggered by smoking.
Even if you quit, you are not entirely home free.
The Public Health Foundation of India has found that 30%-40% of smokers will get COPD. The frightening part of this statistic is that even if you've not smoked for 25-30 years, you are still at risk. The main factor in this instance is how much you smoked while you were smoking. If you only had one cigarette a day for a few years, you are at a low risk but if you smoked a pack or two a day for several decades, your risk levels are high.
Once you have COPD, you will have it for the rest of your life. It can be managed with medications but given that little research is going into this, doctors are not exactly sure which medications are best, especially for elderly patients. It doesn't appear that this research void will be filled any time soon.
Are you a smoker? Does this information inspire you to quit or make you feel even more anxious about the addictive habit you can't seem to kick?
Source: The Quint