Dr. Rosemary Leonard answers a question on a chest infection from smoking in the company of Emma Howard.
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Host: Hello! We are answering questions on health and medical problems. I'm joined by Dr. Rosemary Leonard. Hello! Dr. Rosemary Leonard: Hello! Host: Rosemary I've got a question from the man concerning possible smoking related illnesses. He says he is a heavy smoker, a 40-a-day habit he has got. For the last week I have had a really nasty cough and keep bringing up green and yellow phlegm, and he says that my breath also smells really bad. Is this because of my smoking? Dr. Rosemary Leonard: The answer is almost certainly, yes. It's sounds like he has got a chest infection. He is a really, really heavy smoker, 40-a-day is a lot of cigarettes. Host: A big habit. Dr. Rosemary Leonard: It's a big, big habit and what cigarettes do, we all have little hairs inside the airways, inside our lungs which help to filter out and waft out all the rubbish that we breathe in everyday. Smoking destroys that cleaning mechanism, so it means that all this rubbish, as well as, all the dung from these cigarettes, and I know I am being a bit disgusting here, but it's all accumulating down in his lungs and it's just setting down to get him infected. And unfortunately, if you are a heavy smoker, once you have got an infection, it can be difficult to clear. The other thing is, is that smoking can permanently damage the lining of the lungs, so that you cannot breathe so easily. He needs two things, first of all, he needs to get treatment for the probable chest infection that he has got and the other thing he needs to do, is get some help with giving up smoking. Host: Because the chest infection will only come back when he does. Dr. Rosemary Leonard: Yes, I mean, well he is more likely to get a chest infection, but if he is smoking 40-a-day, he is going to end up, if he hasn't already got it, he is going to end up with lung damage, which will affect his breathing and it means that he will get short of breath, just going upstairs. So, I mean, and never mind, in fact, just heavy on his wallet. So, he needs to go and get some help with giving up smoking. Host: And do you think that good enough help is out there these days? Dr. Rosemary Leonard: Yes there are new treatments for smoking cessation coming out all the time and you have to remember that smoking in public places is soon going to be completely band. So, people are going to have to tackle their smoking habits. Host: Good advice Rosemary, as always. Thank you. If you have a similar problem, we hope we might have given you some help, but remember, it's always best to go and see your own doctor for medical advice, thanks for watching. We'll be back with more health questions and answers.