Diseases Caused By Smoking
Smoking is one of major causes behind many health problems throughout the world. Cigarettes and their smoke contain many harmful chemicals that can cause various health problems, some of which may even be fatal. People initially take up smoking for various reasons that range from peer pressure to a desire to experience a thrill. However, with time people get addicted to the nicotine content present in the cigarettes. Some individuals may even smoke to relieve stress. No matter what one’s reason might be for smoking, a person can face serious health issues once he or she becomes addicted to smoking. In this article, we will take a look at some of the most common forms of health disorders that one might face due to smoking.
There are several hazardous health effects that are caused by smoking cigarettes. An individual addicted to smoking can develop numerous serious and fatal ailments. Regular smokers are quite likely to suffer from respiratory infections as well as many minor complaints like coughs and colds. Other serious health issues caused by smoking cigarettes include dreadful diseases like cancer, heart, lung and cardiovascular disorders. Along with these, a smoker also suffers from respiratory problems as well as various ailments of the liver, kidneys and the pancreas.
Smoking and Cancer
Addictive smokers are highly prone to suffer from cancer than nonsmoking people. Tobacco smoke contains carcinogens like tar that can cause cancer of the mouth, throat, lungs and gullet. Smoking is responsible for nearly 90% of all lung cancer cases. Apart from lung cancer, smoking can also cause lead to other forms of cancers like pancreatic cancer, bladder cancer, esophagus cancer and the cancer of kidneys. Smoking can lead to the development of cervical cancer in women.
Respiratory Diseases caused by Smoking
Smoking causes a number of different respiratory diseases. These are discussed below:
Bronchitis: Inflammations of the bronchial tubes can cause bronchitis. Smoking excessively during stressful situations can lead to acute bronchitis. Bronchitis is considered to be an indicator for more serious health conditions that can develop if an individual continues smoking. Scarring of the bronchial tubes and thickening of bronchial lining by mucus leads to breathing difficulties. This gives rise to chronic obstructive bronchitis characterized by constant coughing. Emphysema and bronchitis are related as they both fall into the category of COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease category. Smoking is responsible for nearly 90% of all COPD cases, as stated by the NWHIC or National Women’s Health Information Center. In United States, COPD is also the 4th leading factor causing death.
Emphysema: Emphysema is a condition wherein a person experiences breathing difficulty due to limited airflow from the lungs. The condition grows worse over time and the lung tissue eventually weakens. The air sacs which are responsible for delivering air into bloodstream are destroyed over time. This causes several symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath and wheezing. It is difficult to detect emphysema in the earlier stages. Due to this, a person is often not diagnosed with emphysema until more advanced symptoms begin to develop.
Pneumonia: The American Cancer Society states smoking as one of the prime causes of pneumonia. Pneumonia is another illness which belongs to the COPD category. The habit of smoking can also worsen the symptoms of various asthmatic conditions and pneumonia. People who repeatedly suffer from pneumonia can eventually develop the symptoms of emphysema or bronchitis.
Asthma: The bronchia and its walls are filled with muscle bands. Asthma causes these muscle bands to contract which narrows the breathing conducts. This makes respiration and breathing difficult, causing rattling. However, unlike in bronchitis, troubled breathing occurs periodically, with intermittent episodes of normal breathing.
Lung Cancer: Lung cancer is by far the most important of all lung diseases caused by smoking. Nearly 87% of all cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90% of all deaths caused by lung cancer in men and 80% in women are caused by smoking. This fatal disease develops when the abnormal cells within the lungs start to divide and become cancerous. Lung cancer can spread quickly to the other parts of the body. Treatment becomes difficult if lung cancer is not diagnosed early. The best way to cure lung cancer is to give up smoking completely.
Cardiovascular Diseases are heart diseases that affect the blood vessels of heart as well as other blood vessels. The nicotine that is present in the tobacco increases cholesterol levels in blood. The cholesterol and many other fats get deposited in arteries thereby causing their hardening. The arteries become rigid, narrow or blocked. This narrowing of arteries is known as atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis leads to formation of blood clots which in turn increases the threat of cardiovascular diseases. The most common cardiovascular diseases that affect smokers are cerebral thrombosis, coronary thrombosis, coronary heart diseases, peripheral vascular disease such as blockage in legs and cerebrovascular diseases like strokes.
Inhaling tobacco smoke creates many immediate reactions within one’s heart as well as blood vessels. Within a minute of smoking, the heart rate starts to increase and goes up to 30% higher within the first ten minutes of smoking. Carbon monoxide present in the tobacco smoke reduces the blood’s capability to carry oxygen. Smoking cigarettes also increases the possibilities of a heart attack. In some recent research conducted by some American biologists, it has been shown that cigarette smoke also interferes with the cell division process of cardiac muscles and changes the shape of the heart. Smoking has also been linked to Buerger’s disease.
Other diseases caused by smoking
Cigarettes and their smoke consist of several chemicals such as carbon monoxide, nicotine and hydrogen cyanide as well as 43 known carcinogens. They can damage the linings of the blood vessels as well as affect the quantity of fats within the bloodstream. Smoking increases the chances of atheroma, the main cause of strokes, heart diseases and aneurysms.
Smoking also affects a person’s oral health by staining the gums and teeth. It can also give rise to various health problems such as loose teeth, swollen gums and bad breath.
Smoking develops a slightly acidic taste in one’s mouth. It also increases the chances of developing oral ulcers.
The habit of smoking can also lead to different types of sexual problems. The people who are addicted to smoking cigarettes face an increased danger of suffering from fertility problems as well as sexual performance issues.
The habit of smoking increases one’s blood pressure and may cause heart attacks and strokes.
Smoking can worsen the symptoms of asthma.
Smoking also causes early aging. It reduces the blood supply to one’s skin. Due to this, the levels of Vitamin A in the skin are reduced. As a result, smokers tend to have pale, wrinkled skin.
Heavy smoking can lead to macular degeneration that leads to gradual eyesight loss. They also have an increased chance to suffer from cataracts.
Other health problems that are caused by smoking include diabetic retinopathy, chest infections, multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis and Crohn’s disease.
Secondhand smoke is also a potential killer and can cause far more serious health problems than direct smoke. If newborn babies come in close proximity to smokers, they can become vulnerable to asthmatic tendencies as well as infections of nose, ear and chest. There is also an increased possibility of the occurrence of infant death syndrome.
There are also a number of other diseases that are caused by smoking cigarettes. These are mentioned below:
- Smelling and staining of hair
- Cold Turkey while trying to give up smoking
- Altered brain chemistry
- Watering and stinging of the eye
- Lowered olfactory perception
- Thyroid Disease
- Graves Disease
- Premature aging
- Teeth plaque
- Gingivitis of gums
- Cancers of the mouth, lips, throat, larynx and esophagus
- Sore throat
- Bad breath
- Reduced sensations of taste
- Poor circulation and cold fingers
- Duodenal and stomach ulcers
- Aortic aneurysm
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Hip and spinal fractures
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Period pains and earlier menopause in women
- Weakened immune system
- Abruptio placentae
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Placenta previa
- Congenital limb reduction in newborns
Effects of Smoking during Pregnancy
Smoking can have a harmful effect on both a pregnant woman and her baby. A frequently smoking pregnant woman is highly prone to have a miscarriage or experience other complications like bleeding, ectopic pregnancy, detachment of placenta or premature birth. A woman can have a child with low birth weight or even give birth to a stillborn baby. The baby may also be born with some congenital defects.
The habit of smoking can lead to a number of life-threatening diseases that may cause organic deformities or may even lead to death. Hence it is always advisable to try and quit smoking for a more healthy and productive life.
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