Archive for March 27, 2013

Scleroderma: Support, Inform, Advocate, Educate

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Scleroderma: Support, Inform, Advocate, Educate

I’ve been off the blog for a few weeks trying to get my own body issues under control, so I can keep on living, and frantically typing and writing. That’s the goal, anyway. I’ve been riddled with auto immune disease for years now, and finally have begun a course of action to take back control of my scar tissue covered lungs, and keep some function in my body. One thing that I’ve learned is that no one knows ANYthing about Scleroderma!! And even after I’ve explained, they’re still looking at me with confusion, curiosity, and wonder. So, this blog post will have lots of information about scleroderma in it. An important thing to remember–auto immune diseases are different for everyone, and no one’s symptoms are exactly the same. And they can affect ANYone, of ANY age, from infancy to elders.

My issues: Scleroderma, with underlying SLE Lupus, Raynaud’s Phenomenon, Thyroid issues (fluctuating)…and a few other, special extras. My scleroderma affects my Cardio-Pulmonary System, Gastrointestinal System, and Respiratory System. So far, my respiratory system has had the most damage…and that’s what I’m on the *strong* meds for. My biological mother, and the females in her family all also seem to have different types of auto immune issues. Thusly making me think that there is a certain amount of heredity, and a predisposition to certain autoimmune diseases. Anyway, time for the facts!~

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*Definition: Scleroderma
Scleroderma (skleer-oh-DUR-muh) is a group of rare, progressive diseases that involve the hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues — the fibers that provide the framework and support for your body.
Localized scleroderma affects only the skin. Systemic scleroderma also harms internal organs, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys and digestive tract.
Scleroderma can happen to anyone at any time in any geographical area. However, the disease affects women more often than men and most commonly occurs between the ages of 30 and 50. Scleroderma can run in families, but in most cases it occurs without any known family tendency for the disease. Scleroderma isn’t considered contagious, but it can greatly affect self-esteem and the ability to accomplish everyday tasks.

What scleroderma is not:
Scleroderma is not contagious, infectious, cancerous or malignant.
How serious is scleroderma?
Any chronic disease can be serious. The symptoms of scleroderma vary greatly for each person, and the effects of scleroderma can range from very mild to life threatening. The seriousness will depend on the parts of the body, which are affected, and the extent to which they are affected. A mild case can become more serious if not properly treated. Prompt and proper diagnosis and treatment by qualified physicians may minimize the symptoms of scleroderma and lessen the chance for irreversible damage.

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*Symptoms
Scleroderma symptoms vary, depending on which organ systems are involved. Diagnosis can be difficult because some of the early symptoms are common in the general population and aren’t always associated with scleroderma. The most prevalent signs and symptoms of scleroderma include:
Raynaud’s phenomenon. An exaggerated response to cold temperatures or emotional distress, this condition constricts the small blood vessels in the hands and feet and causes numbness, pain or color changes in the fingers or toes.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In addition to acid reflux, which can damage the section of esophagus nearest your stomach, you may also have problems absorbing nutrients if your intestinal muscles aren’t moving food properly through your intestines.
Skin changes. These changes may include swollen fingers and hands; thickened patches of skin, particularly on the fingers; and tight skin around the hands, face or mouth. Skin can appear shiny because it’s so tight, and movement of the affected area may be restricted.
Localized scleroderma
The two main varieties of localized scleroderma, which affects only the skin, are distinguished by very distinctive signs and symptoms:
Morphea. This variety features oval-shaped thickened patches of skin that are white in the middle, with a purple border. Skin patches could appear in only a few spots on your body or be more widespread, appearing all over your body. Morphea generally fades out after three to five years, but you may retain areas of darkened skin where the areas of thickened skin appeared.
Linear scleroderma. This variety, which is more common in children, features bands or streaks of hardened skin on one or both arms or legs, or on the forehead. Linear scleroderma often appears mostly on one side of the body.
With localized scleroderma, the first signs of disease may be the presence of Raynaud’s phenomenon and may develop several years before you notice any other symptoms.
Systemic scleroderma
This type of scleroderma, also called systemic sclerosis, affects not only your skin but also your blood vessels and internal organs. Subcategories are defined by what portions of your body are affected. One variation is known as limited scleroderma, or CREST syndrome.
With systemic scleroderma, skin changes may occur suddenly and progressively worsen during the first one to two years of the disease. After that, changes level off or subside, and sometimes even resolve on their own without treatment.

*Causes
Scleroderma results from an overproduction and accumulation of collagen in body tissues. Collagen is a fibrous type of protein that makes up your body’s connective tissues, including your skin.
Although doctors aren’t sure what prompts this abnormal collagen production, the body’s immune system appears to play a role. For unknown reasons, the immune system turns against the body, producing inflammation and the overproduction of collagen.

*Risk Factors…..(although these can mean a lot, or a little with auto immune diseases)
Several factors appear to increase the risk of certain types of scleroderma:
Race and ethnicity
Certain groups of people are more likely to develop scleroderma than are others:
Native Americans. Choctaw Native Americans in Oklahoma are at least 20 times as likely as is the general population to develop systemic scleroderma. Oddly enough, this increased risk doesn’t apply to Choctaws living in Mississippi.
African-Americans. Systemic scleroderma is more common in African-Americans than it is in Americans of European descent. And the African-Americans who have systemic scleroderma are more likely to develop severe lung complications.

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Gender
Scleroderma occurs at least four times as often in women as it does in men.
Environmental factors
Exposure to a variety of substances may be linked to the development of scleroderma.

Examples include:
-Silica dust, which is common in coal mines and rock quarries
-Some industrial solvents, such as paint thinners
-Certain chemotherapy drugs

Who develops scleroderma, and when?
It’s estimated that about 300,000 Americans have scleroderma. About one third of those people have the systemic form of scleroderma. Since scleroderma presents with symptoms similar to other autoimmune diseases, diagnosis is difficult. There may be many misdiagnosed or undiagnosed cases.
Localized scleroderma is more common in children, whereas systemic scleroderma is more common in adults. Overall, female patients outnumber male patients about 4-to-1. Factors other than a person’s gender, such as race and ethnic background, may influence the risk of getting scleroderma, the age of onset, and the pattern or severity of internal organ involvement. The reasons for this are not clear. Although scleroderma is not directly inherited, some scientists feel there is a slight predisposition to it in families with a history of rheumatic diseases.
However, scleroderma can develop in every age group from infants to the elderly, but its onset is most frequent between the ages of 25 to 55. When doctors say “usually” or “for the most part,” the reader should understand that variations frequently occur. Many patients get alarmed when they read medical information that seems to contradict their own experiences, and conclude that what has happened to them is not supposed to happen. There are many exceptions to the rules in scleroderma, perhaps more so than in other diseases. Each case is different, and information should be discussed with your own doctor.

*Complications…. (and this is a small list)
Scleroderma complications range from mild to severe. Some may even become life-threatening.
Circulatory complications
The variety of Raynaud’s phenomenon that occurs with scleroderma can be so severe that the restricted blood flow permanently damages the tissue at the fingertips, causing pits or skin sores (ulcers). In some cases, gangrene and amputation may follow.
Lung complications
Scarring of lung tissue (pulmonary fibrosis) can result in reduced lung function, reduced ability to breathe and reduced tolerance for exercise. You may also develop high blood pressure in the arteries to your lungs (pulmonary hypertension).
Kidney complications
When scleroderma affects your kidneys, you can develop an elevated blood pressure and an increased level of protein in your urine. More serious effects of kidney complications may include renal crisis, which involves a sudden increase in blood pressure and rapid kidney failure.
Heart complications
Scarring of heart tissue increases your risk of abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias) and congestive heart failure, and can cause inflammation of the membranous sac surrounding your heart (pericarditis).
Dental complications
Severe tightening of facial skin can cause your mouth to become smaller and narrower, which may make it hard to brush your teeth or to even have them professionally cleaned. People who have scleroderma often don’t produce normal amounts of saliva, so the risk of decay increases even more. In addition, acid reflux can destroy tooth enamel, and changes in gum tissue may cause your teeth to become loose or even fall out.
Digestive complications
Scleroderma can affect your upper and lower digestive tracts. Digestive problems associated with scleroderma can lead to acid reflux and difficulty swallowing — some describe feeling as if food gets stuck midway down the esophagus — as well as bouts of constipation alternating with episodes of diarrhea.
Sexual complications
Men who have scleroderma often experience erectile dysfunction. Scleroderma may also affect the sexual function of women, by decreasing sexual lubrication and constricting the vaginal opening.

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*Tests & Diagnostic
Your doctor may conduct the following tests:
Blood tests. People with scleroderma usually have elevated blood levels of certain antibodies produced by the immune system.
Tissue sample. Your doctor may remove a small tissue sample (biopsy) of your affected skin to be examined in the laboratory for abnormalities.
Skin assessment. Your doctor ideally evaluates the condition of your skin in 17 specific areas to determine the level of skin involvement, which provides a clue to the likelihood that you also have life-threatening changes happening to internal organs.
Based on the outcome of your initial evaluation, your doctor may also recommend other diagnostic tests to identify any lung, heart, kidney or gastrointestinal complications accompanying scleroderma.

*Types of Scleroderma
Localized Scleroderma

The changes, which occur in localized scleroderma, are usually found in only a few places on the skin or muscles, and rarely spread elsewhere. Generally, localized scleroderma is relatively mild. The internal organs are usually not affected, and persons with localized scleroderma rarely develop systemic scleroderma. Some laboratory abnormalities commonly seen in systemic scleroderma are frequently absent in the localized form.
Morphea is a form of localized scleroderma characterized by waxy patches on the skin of varying sizes, shapes and color. The skin under the patches may thicken. The patches may enlarge or shrink, and often may disappear spontaneously. Morphea usually appears between the ages of 20 and 50, but is often seen in young children.
Linear scleroderma is a form of localized scleroderma which frequently starts as a streak or line of hardened, waxy skin on an arm or leg or on the forehead. Sometimes it forms a long crease on the head or neck, referred to as en coup de sabre because it resembles a saber or sword wound. Linear scleroderma tends to involve deeper layers of the skin as well as the surface layers, and sometimes affects the motion of the joints, which lie underneath. Linear scleroderma usually develops in childhood. In children, the growth of involved limbs may be affected.
Systemic scleroderma (systemic sclerosis)

The changes occurring in systemic scleroderma may affect the connective tissue in many parts of the body. Systemic scleroderma can involve the skin, esophagus, gastrointestinal tract (stomach and bowels), lungs, kidneys, heart and other internal organs. It can also affect blood vessels, muscles and joints. The tissues of involved organs become hard and fibrous, causing them to function less efficiently. The term systemic sclerosis indicates that “sclerosis” (hardening) may occur in the internal systems of the body. There are two major recognized patterns that the illness can take – diffuse or limited disease. In diffuse scleroderma, skin thickening occurs more rapidly and involves more skin areas than in limited disease. In addition, people with diffuse scleroderma have a higher risk of developing “sclerosis” or fibrous hardening of the internal organs.
About 50 percent of patients have a slower and more benign illness called limited scleroderma. In limited scleroderma, skin thickening is less widespread, typically confined to the fingers, hands and face, and develops slowly over years. Although internal problems occur, they are less frequent and tend to be less severe than in diffuse scleroderma, and are usually delayed in onset for several years. However, persons with limited scleroderma, and occasionally those with diffuse scleroderma,
can develop pulmonary hypertension, a condition in which the lung’s blood vessels become narrow, leading to impaired blood flow through the lungs resulting in shortness of breath.
Limited scleroderma is sometimes called CREST syndrome. CREST stands for the initial letters of five common features:
-Calcinosis
-Raynaud Phenomenon
-Esophageal dysfunction
-Sclerodactyly
-Telangiectasia

To further complicate the terminology, some people with diffuse disease will go on to develop calcinosis and telangiectasias so that they also have the features of CREST.
Although most patients can be classified as having diffuse or limited disease, different people may have different symptoms and different combination of symptoms of the illness.

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*Treatments & Meds
Scleroderma has no known cure — no drug will stop the overproduction of collagen. But the localized variety of scleroderma sometimes resolves on its own. And a variety of medications can help control the symptoms of scleroderma or help prevent complications.
Medications
Dilating the blood vessels. Blood pressure medications that dilate blood vessels may help prevent lung and kidney problems and may help treat Raynaud’s disease.
Suppressing the immune system. Drugs that suppress the immune system, such as those taken after organ transplants, may help reduce scleroderma symptoms.
Therapy
Physical or occupational therapy. Therapists can help you to manage pain, improve your strength and mobility, and work on performing essential daily tasks to maintain your independence.
Cosmetic procedures. The appearance of skin lesions associated with scleroderma may be helped by exposure to ultraviolet light. Laser surgery also may help camouflage or eliminate these lesions.
Surgery
Amputation. If finger ulcers caused by severe Raynaud’s disease have developed gangrene, amputation may be necessary.
Lung transplants. People who have developed high blood pressure in the arteries to their lungs (pulmonary hypertension) may be candidates for lung transplants.

*Alternative Medications or Therapies
None known. Meditation has been noted to help with symptoms.

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*Coping & Support
As is true with other chronic diseases, living with scleroderma can place you on a roller coaster of emotions. Here are some suggestions to help you even out the ups and downs:
Maintain normal daily activities as best you can.
Pace yourself and be sure to get the rest that you need.
Stay connected with friends and family.
Continue to pursue hobbies that you enjoy and are able to do.
If scleroderma makes it difficult for you to do things you enjoy, ask your doctor about ways to get around the obstacles.
Keep in mind that your physical health can have a direct impact on your mental health. Denial, anger and frustration are common with chronic illnesses.
At times, you may need additional tools to deal with your emotions. Professionals, such as therapists or behavior psychologists, may be able to help you put things in perspective. They can also help you develop coping skills, including relaxation techniques.
Joining a support group, where you can share experiences and feelings with other people, is often a good approach. Ask your doctor what support groups are available in your community.

Resources Used:
www.mayoclinic.com

www.scleroderma.org check it out, and donate to the cause, today!!!

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Prescription Drugs: Know Your Medications!

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Prescription Drugs: Know Your Medications!

In today’s day and age, many people take multiple medicines for a myriad of different health issues. I am included in the group, as of this week. I’ve now got 8 different prescriptions to take on schedule, and keep track of daily. As with my own medicines, many times elderly folks will have one prescription for each issue. That can include diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, cholesterol meds, thyroid meds, pain medicine, anxiety meds…. Well, you see that the list goes on and on. Each of these medicines has it’s own list of cautions, warnings, and list of drug interactions to watch for. As a care giver for someone with multiple prescriptions, you should be aware of each medicine, what it does, the proper dosage, and the side effects.

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When I took the role of being the drug deliverer (prescription only, of course), I made to sure to memorize my Grandma’s medications, and study ALL of the information that came with each. I familiarized myself with the pharmacist, and discussed the new meds that came through. I also became the dosage monitor of certain pills, mainly the pain pills.
Grandma had an addictive personality, and her main doctor had seemingly forgotten that when he allowed her to take 5 different pain pills at once. Needless to say, pills were being taken too frequently, and refilled too often. At 8 months pregnant with my third child, I was questioned by the police and pharmacist when I went to pick up her pills one day……because she had gone through so many, in such a short time. At that point, action was obviously taken, and we began reducing her pain pill prescriptions back down to one. It only takes one misstep to cause a somewhat unavoidable pill popping problem in elderly people. Sometimes they do this without even knowing of the risk, or risk of becoming dependant on these drugs. All the more reason to keep track! Below you’ll find some helpful hints and tips on how to keep track of your own, or a loved ones prescriptions!~

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*Tips on Staying Up-to-Date with Medications
-Keep a list of all your medicines in a safe place.
-Bring your list when you talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
-Use a pillbox.
-Put notes around the house to remind you to take your medicines each day.
-Talk to your doctor about all the medicines, remedies, and vitamins you use. Include any medicines you buy without a prescription. These are called OTC (over-the-counter) medicines. OTC drugs include things like cough syrups for colds and antacids for upset stomachs.

*It may be helpful to write down these things:
-the drug name, the doctor who prescribed it, and how much you take the name and amount of each remedy, vitamin, and OTC drug you take the time of day you take each medicine.

Check out this link, http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/safe-use-medicines/hints-get-best-results-your-medicines, to get the best results from each of your medications. It has a comprehensive list to follow to help!

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*Here’s a list of common questions to take with you to your appointment to discuss with your doctor.
-What is the name of the medicine and why am I taking it?
-What medical condition does this medicine treat?
-How many times a day should I take this medicine?
-How much medicine should I take?
-How long will it take this medicine to work? When should I stop taking it? What should I do if I miss a dose?
-Are there any side effects I should know about?
-When should I call you if I am having side effects?
-Can I safely mix this medicine with the remedies, vitamins, and OTC drugs I am taking?

*Know your Pharmacist!
Use this link to take you to a list of questions for your Pharmacist, and a helpful medicine chart to help keep order of all your prescriptions! http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/safe-use-medicines/you-and-your-pharmacist

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*Prescription Safety Resources
The Food and Drug Administration has information for older people about medicines, safety, and ways to lower medicine costs on its website at www.fda.gov.
Some booklets can be ordered by calling the FDA toll-free at 1-888-463-6332, or writing to:

Food and Drug Administration
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20857

For the free booklet, Talking With Your Doctor: A Guide for Older People, call the National Institute on Aging Information Center toll-free at 1-800-222-2225 or go to www.nia.nih.gov/health and click on Publications.
The toll-free TTY line for people who are deaf is 1-800-222-4225.

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Resources Used:
Nia.nih.gov

Copy of the booklet: http://www.nia.nih.gov/sites/default/files/safe_use_of_medicines.pdf

Recent Events: CA Nurse Under Fire for not Giving CPR

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Recent Events: CA Nurse Under Fire for not giving CPR

I first heard this on the news a few nights ago, and immediately lost my breath. My first thought was that this nurse was probably following a DNR order, or simply following this poor, dying person’s wishes. This event happened at an assisted living facility in California, and the nurse was following the protocol that the facility had in place. The 87 year old woman did end up passing away, and as of now, her family has stated that they are happy with her level of care.
This is the fear of many, that their wishes will not be honored; OR, as in this case, the person who is trying to respect our wishes is then thrown under 56890 buses, called terrible names, and drug through the media for being “heartless,” when that just isn’t the case at all. When things like this hit the media, to me, it hurts those who DO follow through with patients wishes. It makes them fear the outcome if it is learned that they did not put on the oxygen mask, or do what was necessary to save whoever’s life. It makes them rethink following the patients wishes, and to do what is now socially necessary–which seems to be keeping everyone alive, as long as possible, with no concern for quality of life.
I’ve coped the article written by the Today Show, as well as linked their video from the discussion Matt Lauer had with the Today’s Professional’s group on Tuesday March 5, 2013. Feel free to comment with your thoughts on the news story, or personal experience!~

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Some information from the article on Today.com!
Police Investigate Facility after Nurse Refuses to do CPR by L. Flam
“Police in California are investigating the case of a nurse at an independent living facility who refused a 911 operator’s pleas to start CPR on a dying elderly woman.
The unidentified nurse at Glenwood Gardens in Bakersfield, Calif., cited a company policy that prevented her from administering the potentially life-saving technique, and when the dispatcher asked her to try to find a non-employee, she said there was nobody available to help, according to the 911 call. The 87-year-old woman, Lorraine Bayless, was pronounced dead at a hospital on Feb. 26, police said, and her daughter has said she was satisfied with her mother’s care.
The Bakersfield Police Department is trying to determine if laws against elder abuse were broken, Sgt. Jason Matson told TODAY.com Tuesday.
“We’re conducting a preliminary investigation to see if there was any criminal wrongdoing by any of the staff at the Glenwood Gardens facility,” he said. “To date, we have not identified anybody that has committed any criminal culpability based on the information that we have, however, we’re continuing to investigate.”
Bayless had collapsed, fallen unconscious and was barely breathing, prompting a staff member to call 911 last week, according to TODAY. She did not have a “Do Not Resuscitate” order on file with the facility, a Bakersfield fire official told The Associated Press.
The head of the facility issued a statement on Monday defending the nurse’s actions.
“Our practice is to immediately call emergency medical personnel for assistance and to wait with the individual needing attention until such personnel arrives,” Jeffrey Toomer, executive director of Glenwood Gardens, said in a statement to TODAY. “That is the protocol we followed.”
“TODAY’s Professionals panel weighed in on Tuesday and the conversation grew heated.
“It’s one thing to make the decision because she had information about maybe a DNR,” former prosecutor Star Jones said, referring to a “Do Not Resuscitate” order. “It’s another thing to make the decision because there’s an employment policy.
“Was she evaluating this woman in the light of who she is as a nurse, or evaluating her in the light of, ‘I don’t want to lose my job?’” Jones wondered. “The good Samaritan laws would have protected her against a lawsuit and the human being laws should protect her against anything else.”
Donny Deutsch cited the costs of treating people in their last year of life.
“We maybe need to give some hard looks that some of the procedures being done to extend lives, six weeks, eight weeks, 10 weeks, that maybe that money could go to saving little babies,” he said. “It’s a very difficult conversation.”
That’s when Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC News’ chief medical editor, jumped in, saying sternly, “I hope this is a national conversation about death and dying.”
To which Snyderman responded: “I hope this is one time where the lawyers and the police stay the hell out of it” (today.com).

Here’s the link to the video of the discussion about this on the Today Show!
http://www.today.com/video/today/51048888

Read the full article here: http://todayhealth.today.com/_news/2013/03/05/17196907-police-investigating-facility-after-nurse-refuses-to-do-cpr?lite

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Resources Used:
Todayhealth.today.com

Smoking Cigarettes & Cigars: Never too Late to Stop!

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Smoking Cigarettes & Cigars: Never too Late to Stop!

I’m sure at some point in your life, you’ve known someone who smoked, or maybe ever smoked yourself. Maybe you’re against breathing in second hand smoke because you’ve known someone who had lung cancer, or maybe have that yourself. I fall into a few of these “groups,” in that most of my family members smoked at one time while I was growing up, and thusly I smoked, too. My smoking habit was between 16-18 years of age, and I’d like to blame it on the crowd I hung around. My cigarettes of choice were Camel Reds…..quite possibly one of the worst out there. Little did I know that years later, I would be diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that was slowly killing my lungs, too. If I only would’ve known….maybe I would’ve never lit up to begin with. What cured the urge for me? My son was born, and my husband was never a cigarette smoker….so there was just no need anymore. My Grandma was one of the “two pack a day” smokers up until she was put into a nursing home, and then she slowed, too. Today, I still have close relatives who I WISH would kick the nicotine to the curb…..but I understand their tie to it, and just how many things are affected by it.
Hopefully this blog will give you the power of information enough to consider quitting, or cutting way back! Lungs are just too important to live without!~

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*Smoking can cause, and worsen many serious illnesses and body complications.
-Lung disease. Smoking damages your lungs and airways, sometimes causing chronic bronchitis. It can also cause a lung disease called emphysema that destroys your lungs, making it very hard for you to breathe.
-Heart disease. If you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol (a fatty substance in the blood) and also smoke, you increase your chance of having a heart attack.
Cancer. Smoking can cause cancer of the lungs, mouth, larynx (voice box), esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix.
Respiratory problems. If you smoke, you are more likely than a nonsmoker to get the flu (influenza), pneumonia, or other infections that can interfere with your breathing.
-Osteoporosis. You have a greater chance of developing osteoporosis as you get older. If you also smoke, your chance of developing weak bones is greater.

Nicotine is a drug in tobacco that makes tobacco products addictive. People become addicted to nicotine. That’s one reason why the first few weeks after quitting are the hardest. Some people who give up smoking have withdrawal symptoms. They may become grumpy, hungry, or tired. Some people have headaches, feel depressed, or have problems sleeping or concentrating. Some people have no withdrawal symptoms.

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*Ideas on Breaking the Smoking Cycle
Some will tell you that their first decision is to firmly choose to quit. Some other helpful ideas are:
-Reading self-help information
-Using individual or group counseling
-Joining a support group
-Asking a friend to quit with you
-Using nicotine replacement therapy
-Taking medicine to help with symptoms of nicotine withdrawal

All that mentioned, everyone is different, and not every method may work for you. Always keep that in mind.

When you quit, you may need support to cope with your body’s desire for nicotine. Nicotine replacement therapy can help some smokers quit. You can buy nicotine replacement products like chewing gum, patches, or lozenges over-the-counter.
There are also nicotine replacement products that require a doctor’s prescription. A nicotine nasal spray or inhaler can reduce withdrawal symptoms, and make it easier for you to quit smoking. Other drugs can also be helpful with some of the withdrawal symptoms not caused by nicotine. Talk to your doctor about what medicines would be the best for you.

Some people think smokeless tobacco (chewing tobacco and snuff), pipes, and cigars are safe. They are not. Using smokeless tobacco can cause cancer of the mouth, pre-cancerous lesions known as oral leukoplakia, nicotine addiction, and possibly cancer of the larynx and esophagus, as well as gum problems. Pipe and cigar smokers may develop cancer of the mouth, lip, larynx, esophagus, and bladder. Those who inhale are also at increased risk of getting lung cancer.

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*SECONDHAND SMOKE
Smokers create secondhand smoke, which can cause health problems for everyone exposed to the smoke. Secondhand smoke is very dangerous for people who have lung conditions or heart disease. It may cause bronchitis, pneumonia, an asthma attack, or lung cancer. In babies and young children, it can cause inner ear infections.

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In an article that covers the affects of secondhand smoke throughout the State of Michigan, the author writes, “Bergman stated that “the Tobacco and the Elderly project will focus on non-smokers as well as smokers because the health effects of second-hand smoke on non-smokers are so serious. Smoke-free environments are critical to the health of all older and younger persons, but are particularly important for persons with heart disease, allergies or respiratory illnesses, such as emphysema or asthma.”
To read the whole article, click here: http://www.tcsg.org/tobacco/press96/pressrel.htm

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*POSITIVES ON QUITTING
The good news is that after you quit:
-Your lungs, heart, and circulatory system will begin to function better
-Your chance of having a heart attack or stroke will drop
-Your breathing will improve
-Your chance of getting cancer will be lower
-No matter how old you are, all of these health benefits are important reasons for you to think about making a plan to stop smoking.

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American Cancer Society
250 Williams Street, NW
Atlanta, GA 30303
1-800-227-2345 (toll-free)
1-866-228-4327 (TTY/toll-free)
www.cancer.org

American Heart Association
7272 Greenville Avenue
Dallas, TX 75231
1-800-242-8721 (toll-free)
www.heart.org

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Office on Smoking and Health
4770 Buford Highway
MS K-50
Atlanta, GA 30341-3717
1-800-232-4636 (toll free)
1-888-232-6348 (TTY/toll free)
www.cdc.gov/tobacco

Smokefree.gov
1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669/toll-free)
1-800-332-8615 (TTY/toll-free)
www.smokefree.gov

Resources Used:
Nia.nih.gov