When chronic bronchitis and emphysema co-exist they create COPD or Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Those with COPD suffer from shortness of breath due to a narrowing of the airways. Asthma sufferers often display the same symptoms but the narrowing of the airway due to asthma is sometimes reversible. COPD cannot be reversed and becomes progressively more debilitating over time.
The most common cause of COPD is the smoking of tobacco. Particles and noxious gases inhaled when smoking trigger an imflammatory response in the lungs. This response in the larger airways is diagnosed as chronic bronchitis. The inflammation destroys tissues of the lung in the alveoli which leads to a diagnosis of emphysema.
Those who suffer from COPD experience symptoms that can suddenly worsen, occasionally leading to the disease becoming acute. Contributing factors to acute episodes of COPD may be caused by infections or air pollution. A proper medical diagnosis is made through lung function tests that measure the volume (amount) and flow (speed) of air that is inhaled and exhaled.
The progressive nature of this disease leaves many sufferers requiring long term oxygen therapy. Wherever people gather it is not unusual to see at least one person carrying a portable oxygen tank or pushing a cart with oxygen necessary for them to breathe.
When COPD is diagnosed, the user is told the disease is not curable but can be managed. By following medical advice, someone with COPD can hope to slow the advance of the disease and help prevent acute attacks. Doctors outline management strategies to the patient which include advice to stop smoking tobacco, obtain useful vaccinations, and participate rehabilitation and drug therapy which commonly includes the use of inhalers.
Though they know the disease that afflicts them was caused by years of smoking tobacco, many who have COPD continue to smoke. These are highly addicted tobacco users. They may believe they cannot quit smoking but more often they see no point in quitting as the damage has already been done.
Part of the rehabilitation for patients often includes sessions of breathing steam to increase flow through the airways. The treatments and management are of limited benefit to those who continue their two or three pack a day tobacco habit. The best electronic cigarettes offer an alternate way to continue smoking that appeals to those with COPD. These people are addicted to the total smoking experience. Their habit includes holding a cigarette in their hand, taking puffs from a cigarette and inhaling the smoke. Those habits are so ingrained in some smokers that nicotine replacement gum, patches and lozenges do not fill the smoker’s needs.
E-cigarettes provide the smoking experience for highly addicted smokers without subjecting their ailing lungs to more toxic smoke. The e-cigs produce a steam vapor that delivers nicotine and flavor to the smoker without the additives and harmful chemicals associated with smoking tobacco. Recent anecdotal evidence from those with COPD who have replaced tobacco with e-cigs tells of those who claim their lives are improved when using electronic cigarettes as an alternative to smoking tobacco. They credit both the absence of toxic compounds released by burning tobacco and inhaling steam from electronic cigarettes as factors that have improved the quality of their life.