COPD: How to Quit Smoking
You breathe in a lot of toxic chemicals when you smoke tobacco. Anyone who wants to be healthier should quit smoking. But if you have COPD, it’s even more important to quit the habit.
“If you continue to smoke, your lungs will get worse faster than if you stop smoking,” says Sue Galanes, nurse practitioner at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. It can also put you at greater risk for lung cancer, heart disease, strokes, and a host of other health issues.
It can be very difficult to quit smoking, as you probably already know – especially if you’ve tried it before. Here are some tips that may help you quit smoking for good.
Even if you have COPD or other lung problems, “knowing you should quit and being ready to quit are two different things,” says Galanes, who helps people with lung disease quit.
To boost your success, here are some of his tips:
Make a list. Write down why you want to quit smoking. And be prepared to challenge any excuses you’ve used in the past. It can “prepare your brain to quit smoking,” says Galanes.
Change your behavior. You may feel a strong desire to smoke when doing certain things. These are known as your triggers. It may be helpful to sever these links in advance.
For example, if you always have a cigarette with your morning coffee, start separating the two. “You can have a cigarette or a coffee. You can’t have them together, ”says Galanes. “It will make a huge difference when it comes to your quit date. So that when you drink that cup of coffee, you don’t feel like having a cigarette.
As you give up this habit, Galanes also suggests that you only smoke outside. This makes ignition more troublesome. This extra step could help you reduce the number of cigarettes you consume each day as you move towards zero cigarettes each day.
Find a replacement. “A lot of people have been smoking for over 30 years,” says Galanes. “And besides the addictive component of smoking, there’s the habit.” You can have a kind of withdrawal from this “hand-to-mouth” routine, she says. When you are anxious, trade your cigarettes for things like:
- Sugar free suckers
- Carrots or celery sticks
- Straws cut into thirds
- Coffee stirrers
Know your choices
The more you do to quit, the better your chances of success, says Galanes. She informs her patients about behavior therapy and many other aids to quit smoking, such as:
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). You may experience uncomfortable physical withdrawal effects when you give up nicotine. This is because you have to adjust to a new life with no drugs in your system.
NRT can give you nicotine without the harmful effects of tobacco smoke. And studies show that your chances of quitting increase if you use an NRT.
You’ll start NRT on your quit date, says Galanes. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of each type. Over-the-counter choices include gum, patches, and lozenges. You will need a prescription for NRT sprays or inhalers.
Prescription drugs. These work in a different way from NRT. A drug called varenicline (Chantix) changes the way your body responds to the “rewards” of nicotine. An antidepressant called bupropion (Zyban) is helpful for some people, although experts don’t know why.
You’ll start these about a week before stopping, says Galanes.
Applications to quit smoking. You can use your smartphone to set a quit date, record your smoking triggers, and manage your cravings, among other things. “We don’t recommend one application over another,” says Galanes. “But we’re giving a list of what’s available.”
You can go to Smokefree.gov for some free options.
Find healthy ways to relax
If smoking was something you did when you were stressed out, you might feel more stressed at first when you quit because you’ve closed the door to this unhealthy way of dealing with stress.
But you can find other ways to relax.
These techniques can help you manage cravings and improve your mood. Galanes suggests:
If you are new to exercising, Galanes suggests that you start walking before you quit smoking. Don’t take your cigarettes with you, she said. Joining a quit smoking program that includes support from other people can also help.
If you have a condition like depression or anxiety, get extra help. Your doctor can refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist. They are trained professionals who will help you find the best ways to manage your mental health.
Do less harm
When it comes to cigarettes, the smoking part is worse for your COPD than nicotine, says Benjamin J. Seides, MD, director of interventional pulmonology at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. This is why short and long term NRT is a key part of his approach to quitting smoking.
“Everyone wants to be clean and free [of nicotine]. But that’s not always a realistic goal, ”says Seides. “We might not get you to someone unrelated to nicotine. But if I can get the cigarettes out of your mouth, then I’m happy.
You may not be able to quit smoking the first time you use it. But don’t give up. The more you keep trying, the more likely you are to be successful.
Always have a plan to get back on track in the event of a relapse. “There is a process for quitting smoking,” says Galanes. “You could go wrong and have one, but you still have to stay on board to quit smoking.”
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