Does COPD Progress After Quitting Smoking?

If you have been diagnosed with COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, you will probably be considering quitting smoking with immediate effect.

There are undoubted health benefits to quitting smoking but someone with COPD will reap the rewards unprecedentedly as quitting smoking is the most crucially important thing that you can do when diagnosed with COPD.

This is because COPD is progressive and its harmful effects can be reduced at any stage by stopping smoking and preventing any further harm to the lungs.

Quitting smoking helps to improve breathing and reduces the likelihood of contracting chest infections.

It also reduces inflammation in the lungs and improves any chest tightness. Therefore, quitting smoking entirely is the best way to completely alter the course of COPD. 

Whilst this may seem like an obvious solution, quitting smoking is easier said than done, particularly if you have smoked for an extensive period of time.

Studies show that those with COPD tend to have a greater nicotine dependence and there is also a higher rate of mental illness in those diagnosed with COPD.

Therefore, quitting smoking entirely is not entirely straight forward as the cessation period can drastically increase symptoms of depression. 

However, if you are eager to quit, you will need to ensure that you have implemented the right support plan. Engaging in psychotherapy is helpful and your doctor will be able to advise you on how to manage your moods after quitting.

Medication also helps to improve mood changes. Above all, you should remember that quitting smoking comes with many benefits that far outweigh any short-term comfort that you will experience during the withdrawal process. 

Does Shortness Of Breath Disappear After Quitting Smoking? 

Whilst shortness of breath may not disappear entirely, you are likely to see a drastic improvement in your breathing after 6 months without smoking. Quitting smoking will undoubtedly prevent any shortness of breath from becoming worse.

Those with COPD will find it difficult to empty their lungs when exhaling as air can become trapped preventing the ability to bring in new, fresh oxygen.

Therefore quitting smoking and practicing deep breathing techniques will help to improve muscle strength and enhance breathing capacity by proxy. 

What Will Happen If I Continue To Smoke With COPD? 

Each person’s individual experience with COPD will differ. However, if you continue to smoke with COPD, your progress will be greatly inhibited and your lung condition is likely to become worse.

There are many treatments that can alleviate your symptoms of COPD but none of these will be as effective if you are still heavily smoking.

Therefore, you should ensure that you are taking medications as prescribed alongside quitting smoking in order to reap the greatest benefit. These treatments include inhalers, nebulizers and supplemental oxygen.

As lung capacity is greatly reduced with COPD, it is hard to inhale enough oxygen, using nebulizers and supplemental oxygen ensures that you are taking in the necessary amount of oxygen.

However you should bear in mind that smoking around oxygen tanks is highly dangerous. You should also try to avoid any form of respiratory infection as this is far harder to fight when you have been diagnosed with COPD. 

Practicing deep breathing techniques will also help you to regulate your breathing if you are still smoking. You should always keep your medical healthcare team informed if there are any changes to your breathing.

If you are unable to quit, then you should cut down on the amount that you are smoking and a supportive medical team will be able to encourage you during the process.

Research has demonstrated the benefits of reduced smoking even if you cannot quit entirely. Any amount of time where you are smoke-free has undoubted benefits in reducing the progression of COPD. 

How Long Will It Take For My Breathing To Improve After Quitting Smoking?

Quitting smoking helps you to maintain the lung function that you still have as smoking causes irreparable damage to the lungs. Therefore, it is difficult to stipulate how long it will take your breathing to improve after quitting as this depends on circumstance.

On average, people with COPD will notice that their breathing improves within 1-9 months of quitting smoking.

When quitting, people will be smoke-free after 8 hours and the carbon monoxide levels in their body will be halved and after 10 years without smoking, the risk of dying from lung cancer is halved when compared to someone who still smokes.

Should I Smoke If I Have An Increased Chance Of Developing COPD?

If you have been diagnosed with AATD (Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency) you should avoid smoking as this can increase your chance of developing COPD.

Whilst COPD symptoms are reversible, the condition is long-term and therefore, the best way to avoid developing COPD is to quit smoking.

Once you have been diagnosed with an antitrypsin deficiency as this will ensure that your lungs are not damaged beyond repair.

To conclude, quitting smoking is not an easy process but the benefits are endless if you have been diagnosed with COPD. Whilst quitting smoking won’t necessarily reverse any lung damage.

It will ensure that your condition doesn’t decline and that you are able to breathe more freely without medical assistance. If you continue to smoke with COPD, your illness will only become worse due to the negative impact of smoke inhalation on the lungs.

Therefore, practicing deep breathing techniques whilst maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the best way to increase your chances of staying ahead of your COPD.

If you have a history of depression or other forms of mental illness, then you should consult with your doctor prior to quitting as they will be able to put a plan of support in place for you to help you through the withdrawal process. 

A combination of medication and psychotherapy has proven to be the most effective way of reducing mood swings during cessation and this will ensure that you are less likely to relapse into an addiction.

That will continue to have a significantly negative impact upon your COPD.

Depending on how heavily you have smoked, it can take between 1-9 months for you to notice the benefits but your breathing will undoubtedly begin top ease up and you will feel a significant difference.

Therefore, you should try to maintain a balanced emotional state during the short-term process of withdrawal in order to reap the long-term benefit of a smoke-free lifestyle.

COPD is an irreversible condition but it is not always a death sentence so long as you maintain the healthiest lifestyle possible.

If you are not able to quit smoking entirely then you should definitely attempt to reduce the amount that you are smoking and seek nicotine alternatives in order to ease you into abstinence. 

Jonie Dean
Latest posts by Jonie Dean (see all)