The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath
When Clement Clarke Moore wrote "A Visit From St. Nicholas" published in 1823, he undoubtedly had little information about the health hazards of tobacco smoke. Imagine Santa now, sitting in your living room on Christmas Eve, strategically placing your childrens' presents under your Christmas tree. Would he still be smoking his pipe? Or maybe chewing on a piece of Nicorette gum! Times do change, but one thing is certain -- if Santa has been smoking for all these years and is frequently exposed to indoor and outdoor air pollution, he is at high risk for COPD. How can we help Santa (or other people in our lives) prevent COPD? By passing on the following tips:
The best thing that Santa can do, whether he has been diaganosed with COPD or not, is to quit smoking. Smoking cessation is the single most effective (and least expensive) way to prevent COPD and/or to slow the progression of the disease once a diagnosis has been established.
Avoid Secondhand SmokeWhile we know Santa smokes a pipe, what about Mrs. Claus? Or all those elves? Even if Santa quits smoking today, being around secondhand smoke will continue to place him at greater risk for COPD. But there are certain steps that Santa can take, once he understands how secondhand smoke affects his health, to minimize his exposure.
Limit Exposure to Wood Burning Stoves or FireplacesHave you ever wondered just how many chimneys the big man slides down in one night? Exposure to smoke from wood burning stoves and fireplaces causes indoor air pollution which can sometimes be worse than breathing outdoor air. Long-term exposure also places Santa at greater risk for COPD.
Get a Flu Shot
Did you know that individuals who are at risk for COPD (like Santa), would greatly benefit from an annual flu shot? Getting a flu shot also reduces the risk of COPD exacerbation.
Ask For a Spirometry TestThe easiest way for Santa to find out if he has COPD is for him to ask his doctor for a spirometry test. In fact, anyone who smokes, or has a history of smoking, is encouraged to do so. Why? Because spirometry helps doctors diagnose COPD early, before lung damage has a chance to worsen. Earlier diagnosis leads to earlier treatment, which helps reduce COPD symptoms and improve quality of life.
What About Diet and Exercise?What's up with Santa riding in that sleigh all the time? Do you think he's just plain lazy or, like many of us, has little time for eating right and exercising? Whatever his reasons, exercise and nutrition play an important role in any preventative health program and Santa may be wise to make diet and exercise more of a priority in his life. Of course, if Santa finds out he already has COPD, then nutrition and exercise should also be an essential part of his COPD treatment plan.
Speaking of nutrition, do you know how many calories Santa consumes in just one Christmas Eve? About.com's Walking Guide tells us how Santa, like many of us, would benefit greatly from a walking program:
Here are more tips to help Santa get in shape for the New Year:
In addition, Santa could use some sound nutritional advice:
What Should You Do If You Think You Have COPD?
As with many smoking-related illnesses, COPD is a lung disease which, in most cases, is totally preventable. However, if you have COPD symptoms and have not yet been to the doctor, it is important that you make an appointment as soon as possible. Just like Santa, if you're diagnosed early enough, you can help minimize disability by adhering to COPD treatment and making appropriate lifestyle changes.