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Your Healthy Family: Rise in smoking could lead to rise in COPD cases

Posted at 7:30 AM, Nov 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-23 07:32:21-05

NAPLES, Fla. — November is COPD Awareness Month. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases are usually caused by smoking or exposure to pollutants, and a doctor with NCH Healthcare System said a rise in cigarette sales for the first time in decades could impact the number of COPD cases we see in the future.

Dr. David Lindner, the Subdivision Head of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine for NCH Healthcare system, said tobacco use is the number one cause of COPD, and unfortunately, data shows a rise in smoking.

"We're seeing an upswing in young people who are choosing to basically expose themselves to inhalational injury by smoking, vaping.” Dr. Lindner said.

The Federal Trade Commission said for the first time in two decades, sales of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products increased last year. Tobacco use had been declining over time.

Dr. Lindner said tobacco companies have been targeting kids, especially with vaping products.

"When children and young people are targeted with that, obviously that gives them potential to be a lifelong user of these substances, and that's where the problem comes," he said.

He said this could lead to more COPD diagnoses down the road.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also impacted COPD patients. Dr. Lindner said COVID-19 pushed some COPD patients over the edge. Other patients who weren't hospitalized because of the virus are seeing impacts later on.

"Now, the degree of disability, or problems that they were having with their lung disease, have accelerated, and we're now trying to sort out, is it just their lung disease that’s worse? Is it the combination? Did COVID-19 leave a lasting effect on top of their lung disease?” Dr. Lindner said.

He said they use a lung function test to diagnose COPD. A patient blows into a computer, which traces how the air moves in and out of their lungs.