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Lung cancer may come to mind when you think about the risk of smoking cigarettes but there are other long-term health risks. Becky joins The Doctors to share her quitting story as well as the lasting health issues caused by her smoking.
Becky is involved with the CDC's Tips From Former Smokers campaign which began in 2012 and has since helped at least 500,000 people quit smoking. Becky's message to smokers is, "You underestimate your freedom until you no longer have it." Becky needs to be hooked up to an oxygen tank at all times and this restricts her freedom. She has portable tanks but they only have three hours worth of oxygen in them. When she flies on airlines, she is required to rent a special machine and the batteries, which are very heavy and expensive.
Becky shares her story of ending up in the hospital after she was so out of breath it took her two hours to get from her office to her car. Even after that, she tried to smoke for a few more weeks. She says when she eventually couldn't even inhale, she quit, realizing if she didn't she wouldn't be around for her two daughters.
ER physician Dr. Travis Stork shares with viewers that smoking damages nearly every part of your body not just your lungs. It is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the US. Nearly half a million people die each year in the US because of smoking which is more than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined!
The numbers for COPD, the diagnosis Becky has, are also staggering. More than 140,000 Americans die from COPD each year and smoking accounts for as many as 8 out of 10 COPD-related deaths.
There are benefits to quitting smoking at any age. Even just 20 minutes after quitting, your heart rate begins to drop. Within 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting, your heart attack risk begins to drop and your lung function begins to improve. If you are looking to quit, here are five tips:
- Wait out your craving. A craving to smoke only lasts 3-5 minutes. Take deep breaths and find something to distract you.
- Seek counseling and talk to your doctor about medication. These two factors combined increase your chances of success.
- Use a phone app! There are apps that help with quitting smoking like QuitGuide or quitSTART that you can get from smokfree.gov.
- Take it one day at a time. Becky says she would say to herself when a craving hit, "I choose not to smoke today. If I still want to smoke tomorrow, we will have the same discussion then." She also found the ads by the CDC's Tips From Former Smokers campaign motivating, since they show the devastating effects that real people and those around them face because of smoking.
- Call 1-800-QUIT NOW and visit www.cdc.gov/tips. There you can find free help, including counseling and in some cases medication.
*Sponsored by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention