Frequently Asked Questions
Question: I’ve never heard of COPD? Is it a new disease?
Answer: COPD is an established medical term for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthmatic bronchitis. What is new is the popular use of the term to describe pulmonary problems that chare causes, symptoms and treatments.
Question: I’ve smoked for twenty years. Is it too late for me to quit?
Answer: It is never too late to quit. If you quit smoking you will earn immediate benefits and there is a good chance that you reduce your risk for many of the serious health problems that cigarette smoking causes.
Question: Are women more susceptible to COPD?
Answer: Unfortunately, it may be true. Research has demonstrated that women have a greater degree of airway hyper-activity. Doctors have suggested that a woman’s naturally smaller lungs and airways increase susceptibility to the damaging effects of cigarette smoking.
Question: Is alcohol good or bad for people with asthma or COPD?
Answer: There have been a number of studies that indicate the powerful anti-oxidants in red wine can have significant health benefits. However wines that contain sulfites may provoke bronchospasm in people with sensitive airways. If you feel shortness of breath after a few sips of wine, be sure to look for sulfite free wines that are available from both California and New York State vineyards.
Question: Should I move to a warm dry climate like Arizona for my lungs?
Answer: Warm dry climates reduce the chance of getting cold weather respiratory infections. In addition, cold air itself may cause bronchospasm. Some experts argue that by moving from an industrial center to a desert environment, you can move away from higher levels of pollution. One of the downsides, many of the warmer climates have new and lush forms of plants and flowers that will provoke new problems if allergies are an important part of your pulmonary problems. My advice to anyone who is considering such a move is to “rent, not buy.” Take several extended trips to a new region to see how the climate affects you.
Question: My mother died of emphysema. Does that mean I will get it too?
Answer: Not necessarily. Although you have a slightly higher than average risk for COPD, the most important risk factor is your own smoking and lifestyle habits. If you stay away from cigarettes and follow pulmonary protective strategies such as a diet high in anti-oxidants, control indoor air pollution in your home and get a yearly flu shot, you can help avoid developing serious lung problems.