With over 118,000 Americans dead, COVID-19 has decimated many industries and communities. It has wreaked havoc on communities and workplaces everywhere, and there are still so many questions about the spread of the virus and what the future looks like in its wake.
Many are taking every precaution possible to protect themselves and their families, and we know that people with heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and obesity are particularly at risk. That is why giving up smoking may be one of the most important things you can do to help protect you and your loved ones.
We already know that smoking is detrimental to your health, and COVID-19 increases your risks of having serious complications from lung injuries related to the habit. Fortunately, however, you do not have to go it alone when trying to kick the habit. From easy apps on your phone and comprehensive smoking cessation programs to nicotine replacement therapies and products like Black Buffalo smokeless tobacco alternative, stopping tobacco for good is within your reach. So is it time to finally give up smoking?
COVID-19 and Your Lungs
COVID-19 infections have a vast range of effects on your health. Some people are asymptomatic or have very few symptoms when infected, while others wind up in the ICU on a ventilator. It is a scary, wide-ranging spectrum. The one thing we know is that preexisting health conditions make a person more susceptible to the possible dire consequences of COVID-19.
When the virus attacks the lungs, it can cause sepsis,pneumonia, and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). ARDS is when fluid fills up the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. For many people, this condition can be sudden and fatal.
Survivors frequently have permanent damage to their lungs from pulmonary fibrosis that is the result of ARDS. Pulmonary fibrosis is a permanent hardening of the alveoli in your lungs. COVID-19 patients with ARDS often stop breathing on their own and require ventilators to survive.
For those that survive the ventilation and the ICU, they have a long road of recovery ahead. Many will not recover 100% to their pre-COVID-19 life.
Most victims have to relearn how to swallow, eat, talk, and walk. Basic human functions take time and energy to relearn. For every day you were bedridden, it takes three days of rehab to recover your strength. A one to three ratio means that a three-week stay in the hospital will require 9 weeks of recovery.
Most patients will have a combination plan of time spent at a skilled rehabilitation facility, then a return home with healthcare assistance. Hospitals and rehab centers work with patients so they can perform the activities of daily living (ADLs) and live independently again. Unfortunately, some will never recover all of their independence.
Smoking and Your Lungs
Smoking tobacco has lasting and severe consequences on your respiratory health. One out of every five deaths in the United States is attributed to smoking—over 480,000 deaths a year. Smoking can cause lung cancer, COPD, emphysema, asthma, and chronic bronchitis. Just like COVID-19, smoking damages the alveoli in your lungs.
Alveoli are the workhorses of the lungs. They exchange the oxygen and carbon dioxide, pump blood through the lungs, and pump air into the body. Smoking deposits toxins and debris on the delicate cell lining of the air sacs. The linings begin to thicken and reduce their ability to diffuse the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Therefore, their basic function is being severely disrupted by the toxins.
Suddenly, the body is working harder and harder to bring in enough oxygen to keep your brain and muscles working properly. This condition is called hypoxemia. Hypoxemia is sometimes caused by lung conditions like emphysema, COPD, chronic bronchitis, and asthma. Those are the same as the ones caused by smoking.
Symptoms of hypoxemia:
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent cough
- Accelerated heartbeat
- Mental confusion
COPD and emphysema are permanent conditions. Once you are diagnosed, there is no cure. Quitting smoking as soon as possible is the best way to prevent this life-altering damage.
It is Time to Quit!
For you, your family, and your health, it is time to take steps to stop smoking. Becoming tobacco-free is an important step in taking back control of your health. Within an hour of quitting smoking, your body begins to heal. After a month, the cilia return to normal and begin to regrow in your lungs.
Cilia are tiny hairs in your lungs that remove mucus and reduce infections. Cilia are an important line of defense against illness in general. After the cessation of smoking, cilia begin to move again and remove mucus from the lungs.
Stop smoking applications for your smartphones create a personalized program for your smoking cessation journey. Smokefree.gov has a free app that is a comprehensive approach to quitting smoking. If you are over 21, nicotine replacement therapies can assist people with keeping the ritual and losing the tobacco.
They use food-safe ingredients to create the texture, flavor, and nicotine that you enjoy. Free text programs are available that send you information and encouragement 24 hours a day during your quitting process. With all of the free resources available at your fingertips, isn’t it time to help keep your lungs healthy? 2020 is the year to improve your health and improve your life.