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Thomas Stearns (T.S.) Eliot was a habitual smoker throughout his life, which led him to develop “floppy” lungs. Experts at MedlinePlus explained emphysema is “a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)”. The lung disease causes difficulty with breathing, as the air sacs in the lungs become damaged.
Normally, air sacs are “elastic or stretchy”, filling up like a small balloon with each inhale and deflating with each exhale.
“In emphysema, the walls between many of the air sacs in the lungs are damaged,” the experts noted. “This causes the air sacs to lose their shape and become floppy.”
The experts added: “The damage can also destroy the walls of the air sacs, leading to fewer and larger air sacs instead of many tiny ones.
“This makes it harder for your lungs to move oxygen in and carbon dioxide out of your body.”
Emphysema is caused by long-term exposure to irritants that damage the lungs and airways; cigarette smoke is the main culprit of disease.
The main symptoms of COPD, according to the NHS, include:
- Increasing breathlessness, particularly when you’re active
- A persistent chesty cough with phlegm – some people may dismiss this as just a “smoker’s cough”
- Frequent chest infections
- Persistent wheezing.
“Without treatment, the symptoms usually get progressively worse,” the NHS adds.
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Prescribed medication, for example, can help to prevent “bad flare-ups” of the condition.
Treatment will also involve becoming a non-smoker to help prevent further damage to the lungs.
“Help is available from a GP and NHS stop smoking services,” the NHS adds.
Exercise is also crucial to help improve symptoms and a person’s quality of life.
“Exercising until you’re a little breathless is not dangerous, but do not push yourself too far,” the health body points out.
If a person has severe symptoms of COPD, they must first seek the guidance of their doctor before engaging in regular exercise.
“You may be advised to participate in a pulmonary rehabilitation programme,” the NHS states.
“[This] will include a structured exercise plan tailored to your needs and ability.”
T.S. Eliot died of emphysema complications on January 4, 1965; he was cremated and left in a church in East Coker, Somerset.
Having left this world at 76 years of age, the 1948 winner of the Noble Prize has imprinted his legacy onto modern literature.
The distinguished writer turned his hand to plays during his lifetime, including Sweeney Agonistes, Murder In The Cathedral, and The Family Reunion.
And, for that, he earned the title as “The Most Influential English Poet Of His Time”, in his obituary in The Times.
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