General Question

Piper_Brianmind's avatar

Will my lungs ever be healthy?

Asked by Piper_Brianmind (722 points ) September 6th, 2009

Well, I see all these commercials talking about how bad second-hand smoke is. And although I’ve barely ever touched a cigarette myself, I’ve had second-hand smoke around me nonstop for about 20 years now. I did smoke alot of weed in high school also, on a semi-related note. I don’t know if the constant smoke has played a factor in my anxiety or anything other problems I have right now, but just in general.. I’m wondering if, after all this time, it’s even remotely possible for me be healthy. Will my lungs ever fully recover? I can’t even really breathe automatically. I have to do it manually, it seems like. Hopin’ for some good news..

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29 Answers

Darwin's avatar

I suspect the need to “breathe manually” is a symptom of anxiety rather than lung disease.

My husband stopped smoking 20 years ago, and starting about 10 years ago the doctors all told him his lungs had gotten back to being like a nonsmoker’s lungs, so certainly your lungs will be healthier once you get away from exposure to smoke.

Piper_Brianmind's avatar

@Darwin But I’ve heard that if the damage gets to a certain point, it can never be normal again. It can never really heal.

CodexNecro's avatar

Yeah same here man, I smoked cigs for a little while and it’s no secret that I’m a fan of the good herb but I’ve been around smokers my whole life (19). Second hand smoke is proven to do some work on your lungs but I don’t think it nearly as bad as cigarettes.

It’s my understanding that people who quit smoking notice better breathing in as short a time as a few weeks, though I don’t know what your current situation is I think you’ll be fine soon enough.

The whole manual breathing thing is anxiety, I have the same problem.

Darwin's avatar

@Piper_Brianmind – Well, my husband smoked from the age of 9 until he stopped at the age of 47, and his doctors say he’s recovered nicely. He was a three-pack-a-day guy during his adult years in the Navy.

If his lungs can recover, yours certainly can.

Piper_Brianmind's avatar

@CodexNecro Do you take anything for it? Has anything ever worked for you?

CodexNecro's avatar

@Piper_Brianmind I did when I was a kid, not anymore. I’m more apt to avoiding meds if I can help it.

Darwin's avatar

@Piper_Brianmind – Have you ever tried Xanax for anxiety? It worked a treat for me.

Piper_Brianmind's avatar

@Darwin No, but I have a friend who takes it, and she seems to think it works too.
@CodexNecro Me too. I’m very skeptic of them. But I’ve gotten to the point where I’m almost willing to try anything. Yanno?

CodexNecro's avatar

@Piper_Brianmind Yeah I understand that. I get pretty bad with it, last night I had a nosebleed (allergies) but the sight of blood makes me dizzy so I started panicking and my heart rate increased which resulted in more blood pouring from my nose. I ended up over the toilet dry heaving, blood all over the place and my nose was still essentially a faucet.

By the time I was so drained that I couldn’t hold myself over the toilet, I thought “why don’t I just chill?” so I relaxed, gained control of my breathing, and the blood completely stopped.

This is why I avoid meds. If I can gain the mental advantage, why get something that will cause more problems with side effects than it fixes?

Piper_Brianmind's avatar

@CodexNecro Yeah. I can snap out of it sometimes. I used to be able to in like a second flat. Things weren’t anywhere near as hectic as they are now, though. Oh well. At least I got some good calming answers. Lurve for both. =)

CodexNecro's avatar

@Piper_Brianmind Music works wonders, and I can’t stress that enough.

mcbealer's avatar

curious… don’t understand above references to manual vs. automatic breathing ?

CodexNecro's avatar

@mcbealer if me and piper_brianmind are on the same page, it’s where you have to “think” about breathing in order to breathe. I don’t think you ever stop breathing, you just worry that you will.

Darwin's avatar

I had the same symptom when I was having bad anxiety attacks, the feeling that I had to think about breathing so that I wouldn’t stop.

On another note, what I found was that the Xanax took the anxiety down enough that I could then learn and apply other methods of calming myself. Once I could do that reliably I tapered off the Xanax. I haven’t used it now in about five years because it allowed me to teach myself how to end the anxiety spiral.

Piper_Brianmind's avatar

@mcbealer Most people breathe without thinking. It’s automatic. Manual means.. the amount of effort it takes you to, say, smack someone for being an arse.. is the amount of effort it takes me to inhale and exhale.

CodexNecro's avatar

I have a problem with heart palpitations too, sometimes I have to stop what I’m doing because it makes me so nervous.

mcbealer's avatar

oh wow… yeah I can’t ever remember that happening, at least not consciously anyways. I do know there have been times that it seems like I can’t get enough CO2, like during cardio/very strenous exercise. I am a previous smoker, and often wonder how much damage my lungs have endured. I think there is much debate on the alveoli’s ability to regenerate, if any.

mcbealer's avatar

this is a pretty awesome video

asmonet's avatar

@Piper_Brianmind: If you stopped breathing automatically, you’d die when you went to sleep. It might take more effort, but it is automatic. You’re probably just blowing it out of proportion to yourself, you did mention anxiety. Go talk to your doctor. Fluther can’t help you.

geniusatwork's avatar

I agree with @Piper_Brianmind. Your problem sounds more like an anxiety issue than a medical or lung-related problem. See your doctor as soon as possible.

casheroo's avatar

@Darwin I think it’s a symptom of anxiety as well, it’s like you’re all too aware of your bodily functions…I don’t think it has to do with second hand smoke either.

avvooooooo's avatar

@Piper_Brianmind Many “antidepressants” are also anti-anxiety medications. In the past, I’ve been on Lexapro and Wellburtin (at different times, several years apart). Most of my anxiety had to do with being in school and being so busy being stressed about school that I wasn’t getting done what I needed to do, which stressed me out more, and then I was even less productive… and so on. The antidepressants prevented me from going into the cycle to begin with. You might want to look into that.

Those two are the ones that are less likely to make you gain copious amounts of weight.

Piper_Brianmind's avatar

@avvooooooo I’ve been on Lexapro before. In total, I’ve been through about 12 or 13 different medications. Most of them being in that category. And I didn’t notice any significant changes, which is why I’m skeptic. Surely they can’t be placebos, and I know they must do something. Just trying to find the right one. I think my depression has alot to do with the things that occur (or don’t) because of my anxiety. So if I can just deal with that for right now, it might even things out as a whole. So I think I’m gonna try Xanax samples and see what happens.

avvooooooo's avatar

@Piper_Brianmind The reason these drugs work differently for everyone is because of the way they interact with your individual body chemistry. There are a lot of factors, including how long you stay on them and allow them a chance to work. Some people don’t stay on them long enough to let them work, if they’re going to. Others simply don’t have the desired effect. The answers are either to give them time to work or to try something else. I’ve heard good things from a number of people about Celexa and Wellbutrin.

mass_pike4's avatar

any damage that has been done is permanent. Fortunately, your lungs develop more pulmonary capillaries and alveoli which help you to breathe better over time…that is only if you do not smoke and keep second hand smoke at a minimum.

The best thing you can do buddy is exercise.

pathfinder's avatar

I feel you.My trick is keep on moveing,that is mean sport,breath exercise,activity like this are good. Plas don t remmember that your lungs are in bad conditione.

Robles's avatar

I read the testamonials… the are kind of funny… they are unsubstantiated claims by a manufacturer… let me guess how much stock I would put into that… hmmmm .. ZERO!

It doesnt seem to be harmful… and you may want to try it if you think it may help you… I am very suspicious of any of these preparations… esp this vitamin industry tends to be pretty shady at best… just because they say they have the specific ingredients in their vitamins .. doesnt mean they do…

You are going to go through a cleansing process whith lots of coughing if you were a heavy smoker… the lungs and natural defense systems will start doing some sprng cleaning…

Hang in there… I wish you the best… stay strong!

lloydbird's avatar

Check out the herb ‘Coltsfoot’, especially as recommended by William Smith in his book- ‘The Wonder of Weeds’.

Smashley's avatar

The human body is surprisingly resilient. Sure you might never have those virginal lungs you were born with, but you can recover quite well if you limit your exposure to damaging inhalants.

Skin will scar, organs will wear, and we all grow old. You can’t change the past, but you can control the damage by changing your ways.

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