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Amanda Click: How I Quit Smoking With Asthma
After her mother introduced her to cigarettes, Amanda Click developed a pack-a-day habit – despite her asthma. After finally quitting, she was amazed at how quickly her lungs and overall health improved.
By Beth W. Orenstein
Medically Reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH
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Amanda Click was diagnosed with asthma when she was 7. She started smoking when she was 13.
Her mom, wanting to be cool, had handed her a carton of cigarettes and offered that they could smoke together. “Anytime she lit up a cigarette, I would too,” said the now 28-year-old from Elk City, Okla.
Click knew that smoking and asthma were not a good combination. But like many teens who see themselves as invincible, she puffed away. All told, she smoked a pack a day for about 10 years.
Smoking constantly made Click’s asthma worse. “I pretty much wheezed anytime I breathed, and I had a constant and horrific cough that would nearly turn me purple,” she recounted.
Click knew that what she was doing was terrible for her health, but that didn't stop her. “I still lit up a cigarette,” she said. Doctors, friends, and family warned her of the dangers of not quitting smoking with asthma, but she wouldn’t listen.
Click ended up in the emergency room quite often. “It was embarrassing to say I smoked,” she said, yet she was undeterred even by the many health scares she faced.
Then, one late December day in 2008, as she was on her way to work, she had a severe asthma attack. "I went straight to the ER,” she said.
Click told no one where she was or what had happened to her. Her boss and her family were terribly worried. “They were searching in ditches for me, thinking I had wrecked on my way to work,” she said. “It wasn’t until hours later they found out I was in the hospital.”
When she finally checked her cell phone, she had at least 15 missed calls from family and work. When she called her husband, he screamed, “Do you realize everyone is looking for you?”
Making a Vow to Quit Smoking With Asthma
The incident was the final straw and the impetus Click needed. On New Year's Day 2009, she vowed she would quit smoking for herself and her family. Plus, she was able to do it cold turkey. “I threw an entire carton of cigarettes away and never picked them up again,” she said.
The result? She began to feel better immediately. “Within a couple of days of quitting I started feeling better,” she said. “And within a month I had no cough at all.”
Now she hardly ever uses her inhaler -- “unless I’m sick or doing something to exert myself,” she said.
People don’t believe how easy it was for Click to quit smoking. “It was much easier than I expected it to be too,” she acknowledged.
Click believes her cold-turkey strategy was the key. “That and having the mind-set that you’re never going to go back,” she said.
Had Click known how much better she’d feel after having quit smoking with asthma, she might have done it sooner, she admitted. “I didn’t realize how much it would help," she said. "Now that I see the benefits, I know I’m not going back to smoking.”
How Smoking Can Trigger Asthma
Clifford Bassett, MD, director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York and a spokesman for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, said patients with asthma who smoke are putting themselves in double jeopardy. Because of their asthma, they’re already at risk for episodes of difficulty breathing. Cigarette smoke can also irritate their lungs and cause shortness of breath. Frequent shortness of breath can lead to chronic lung conditions like emphysema and bronchitis.
Even secondhand smoke can cause someone with asthma to suffer an attack, Dr. Bassett said. Not only should patients with asthma quit smoking, he said, but they also should avoid public areas where others are smoking.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 percent of American adults have asthma and smoke. Click would like to tell them all to quit. “I’m glad to tell anyone who will listen what a difference it makes,” she said.
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