The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Why should someone with emphysema stop smoking after they’re diagnosed with the disease? After all, the damage to the lungs has already been done, hasn’t it? Why go through the discomfort and inconvenience of quitting smoking now? Here’s what to expect with an emphysema prognosis after quitting smoking.
All the scientific evidence available about smoking cessation and emphysema indicates that lung function decline slows dramatically once a person quits smoking, meaning you’ll likely experience a change in your emphysema prognosis after quitting smoking. According to most research, lung function decline normalizes—that is, it declines at a similar rate to others of the same age, height, weight and sex, once a person breaks the habit of inhaling toxic smoke.
Unfortunately for some, lung function can decline quickly as compared to other people with emphysema. Those who experience this are known as “rapid decliners.”
What Factors Contribute to a Decline in Emphysema Prognosis?
According to the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, when lung function declines more rapidly than that of others of a similar demographic, there can be an increased risk of hospitalization and even early death.
How can someone with emphysema know how quickly his or her lung function will decline? Here are a few risk factors for being in the rapidly declining emphysema group:
- Frequent respiratory infections
- A genetic predisposition to rapid decline of lung function
- Other illnesses contributing to declining lung function
- Advanced disease
- An age of 50 or older
- Being female
- African ancestry
Why Quit Smoking to Improve Emphysema Prognosis?
The European Respiratory Journal suggests that smoking cessation improves emphysema symptoms and emphysema prognosis after quitting smoking, reduces the hyper-responsiveness of airways (also known as bronchoconstriction), and “normalizes the excessive FEV1 decline in all stages of the disease.” FEV1, or forced expiratory volume, is a measurement of the amount of air a person can forcefully blow out of his or her lungs in one second. It’s the major indicator of lung function for people with emphysema, as it demonstrates lung capacity.
How to Head Off a Rapid Decline in Lung Function and Improve Emphysema Prognosis after Quitting Smoking
At a certain age, lung function declines as a result of the natural aging process. With the added burden of smoking, the lungs have increased difficulty keeping up with the damage, and the rate of lung function decline occurs even more quickly. Research shows that smoking cessation is the single most effective way to slow emphysema progression and other forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), so why in the world do so many people continue to smoke? The hardest part of quitting is finding the motivation to take the first step. It’s always easy to find a reason to put it off. If there’s one universal truth about quitting that applies to all of us, it’s that no one is ever prepared to quit smoking. Smoking is an addiction, and in the case of addiction, we need to admit that getting help is a good idea. Quitting is tough, but no one has to do it alone. Here are a few of the many options to help people quit:
A Free Smoking Cessation Guide
The Lung Institute offers a free, online Smoking Cessation Guide, a good place to start building motivation to begin the daily road to living tobacco-free. Inside, you also can find contact information, so you can connect with the in-person, human assistance that helps smokers quit. Remember, you can quit smoking, and we’re here to help.
Freedom From Smoking
For adult smokers, the American Lung Association offers the Freedom From Smoking®program, which teaches skills and techniques proven to help smokers quit. Freedom From Smoking® is available as a group clinic, an online program or as a book. The ALA also has cessation counselors available on their Lung HelpLine.
With a strong online community of “Quitters” and mobile app, Quitter’s Circle can be an effective smoking cessation tool. Developed in collaboration between the American Lung Association and Pfizer, Quitter’s Circle helps users personalize a quit plan and access healthcare provider resources for quitting smoking to slow emphysema progression.
Can Emphysema Progression Be Slowed?
Eating a diet high in antioxidants
A healthy diet, rich in antioxidant vitamins like A, C, E and selenium may be associated with better lung function.
Avoiding long-term exposure to air pollution
Create a smoke-free environment in your home. Avoid exposure to wood burning stoves, biomass fuels and chemical fumes, and stay indoors on days when air quality is poor.
Exercising every day
Research suggests that moderate to high levels of regular physical exercise are associated with reduced levels of lung function decline and risk of COPD in smokers. Imagine what exercise will do for you if you quit!
We Can Help.
We’re the Lung Institute, a leading medical provider of regenerative cellular therapy for lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis and interstitial lung disease in the United States. Founded in 2013 in Tampa, Fla., the Lung Institute has treated over 2,500 patients and operates clinics in Florida, Tennessee, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Texas. You can do it; you can quit smoking and work to improve your emphysema prognosis after quitting smoking. For more information, contact us or call (800) 729-3065.