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Lung Scarring and Desire to Quit Smoking

06/19/2009 - Questions and Answers

Lung Scarring and Desire to Quit Smoking

By: Novoviva webmaster

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Question

I'm a 48 year old woman wanting to quit smoking so I requested a chest X-ray just to make sure my lungs were okay.

I called and the nurse told me everything was okay, just that I had scarring on my lungs. She didn't seem to be worried, but it worried me. Should I speak to my doctor or someone else about this scarring, or is this something not to worry about?. I did have pneumonia about 20 years ago, which I guess could have caused the scarring, but I need to know what this scarring actually means for me.
 

Answer

Congratulations on your resolve to quit smoking. Even if you did not already have scarring in your lungs, smoking is a big risk factor for lung problems such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and lung cancer plus high blood pressure, heart and artery disease and passive smoking can also be harmful to others. However, you would be best advised to discuss your old lung scarring with your own treating doctor, who will have the X rays or results at hand and knows you and your medical history, so is the best person to advise what your old lung scarring actually means for you.
 

You do not mention what type of pneumonia you had 20 years ago, but the general information you read here may be helpful to you. Many types of dust can cause allergic reactions in the lungs. Organic dusts that contain microorganisms or proteins and chemicals, such as isocyanates, may cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is an inflammation of the lung (usually of the very small airways) caused by the body's immune reaction to small air-borne particles. These particles can be bacteria, mold, fungi, or even inorganic.
 

The symptoms of an acute attack are similar to those of the flu and appear some 4-6 hours after the person breathes the offending dust. These symptoms include chills, fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, a tight feeling in the chest, and tiredness. The symptoms may persist for as little as 12 hours or as long as 10 days. Between attacks the person may have no symptoms and feel quite normal.
 

The most important treatment of hypersensitivity pneumonitis is avoidance of repeated exposures to the offending particles. With early diagnosis and prevention, prognosis is good. Prolonged, repeated exposures can lead to permanent lung damage and scarring, and significant disability.
 

This following information may help your desire to quit smoking become a reality. Tobacco smoke is the top carcinogen, causing about 30% of all cancer deaths in the U.S. Over 2,000 chemical poisons are generated by tobacco smoke. Nicotine and Carbon monoxide reduces oxygen to the brain, lungs and heart being a promoter to all types of cancer cells. As a result, tobacco smoke offers the perfect formula for initiating and promoting cancer: carcinogens, toxins, free radicals, antioxidant deficiencies, and immune suppression.
 

Nicotine is a poisonous substance in tobacco which the body becomes dependent on. The nicotine enters the body through the lungs each time cigar or cigarette smoke is inhaled. The nicotine collects in the lungs and can cause troublesome breathing problems called Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor which means it narrows the blood vessels and decreases blood flow which can cause high blood pressure and Cardio Vascular DiseaseIt can also cause Cancer of the mouth, throat ,larynx, esophageus & lung, as all these parts of the body are effected by the cigar/ cigarette smoke. With cardio vascular disease cigarette smoking is a Big risk factor, along with other risk factors which can cause Heart Disease. i.e. obesity or being over weight through lack of exercise and bad diet with high fat and high cholesterol intake, high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels, or the genetic factor.( how many people in the family who have or have died with heart disease) the genetic factor also applying to cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Please see related links below for further assistance.
 

Related Links
When you stop smoking
Quitting Smoking
Habitrol
Zyban

Created on: 09/05/2006
Reviewed on: 06/19/2009

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