By By Shari Lopatin, TriWest Healthcare AllianceNovember 13, 2009
The Great American Smoke-Out is Nov. 19 and a great time for Presidio of Monterey community members who are smokers to kick the habit together.
Quitting smoking can also prevent the nation's fourth leading cause of death: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD.
"My dad smoked his entire life and I think that smoking is what, in fact, killed him eventually. But I wasn't thinking about that. I just thought it was a cool thing to do and I wanted to smoke too," said Navy Surgeon General Vice Adm. Adam M. Robinson in a video interview posted on TRICARE's Tobacco Free Web site. "The reason I stopped smoking was because of my patients. ... Kicking an addiction is probably among the strongest things that we will ever do."
The American Lung Association says smoking is the main cause of COPD, which is a group of lung diseases that include emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, this condition affects more than 12 million people in the United States. COPD makes breathing hard by partly blocking the lungs' airways. It can cause colds that last weeks instead of days, frequent lung infections and difficulty keeping up with activities you enjoy, according to COPD-International.
While no cure exists for COPD, if people quit smoking, they will see symptoms start decreasing after one to nine months, the American Lung Association says. This means less coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue and shortness of breath.
Stopping a smoking habit will also help slow the progression of COPD. Some other suggestions from COPD-International to improve quality of life with COPD include healthy eating habits, a personal exercise program approved by a doctor and following a medication routine all the time, rather than just sometimes.
People can also practice some at-home breathing exercises to help train their bodies to breathe better. Find them from COPD-International at www.copd-international.com/Library/Breathing_Exercises.htm.
For additional information, visit any of the following online resources:
Aca,!AcTRICARE Tobacco Free: www.tricare.mil/tobaccofree/default.aspx
Aca,!AcTriWest Healthcare Alliance: www.triwest.com/copd
Aca,!AcAmerican Cancer Society: www.americancancersociety.org