We are all fully aware of the dangers associated with smoking, yet around 40 million Americans refuse to give it up. The negative health effects of smoking go far beyond the damage caused to the lungs. If you are a smoker or know someone who does smoke, read on to learn how this bad habit can affect your well-being.
According to the National Health Service, the following are some of the risks smoking poses to your lung and respiratory health:
- It increases the risk of mouth and throat cancer; it causes more than 93 percent of oropharyngeal cancers
- Smoking lowers the immune system and makes you more prone to colds and coughs. It can even lead to fatal diseases like pneumonia, emphysema, and lung cancer. Smoking is to blame for 84 percent of deaths from lung cancer and 83 percent of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Smoking damages lung tissue, which makes it difficult to breathe. Those with COPD will experience shortness of breath much faster during physical activities as well as persistent cough with phlegm
Smoking on a daily basis can cause inflammation of the lungs, which restricts air passage and makes breathing difficult. The lungs have alveoli, air sacs which aid in oxygen exchange. Smoking destroys them, and given that you cannot grow them back, you experience permanent damage.
Smokers get more infections and colds than non-smokers as smoking paralyzes cilia, the hairs in the airways. They are responsible for cleaning out dirt and mucus so that the lungs stay healthy. Without them, you are at an increased risk for infection as there is nothing to filter out toxins.
Even if you don’t develop lung complications like lung cancer, you are still at higher risk of mortality compared to those who have never smoker. According to a study in BMJ Journals, men and women in Norway who smoked 1-4 cigarettes daily had higher risk of dying from ischaemic heart disease and lung cancer.
Recently, a nurse from North Carolina named Amanda Eller uploaded video to Facebook which illustrates what smokers’ and non-smokers’ lungs look like after two decades. She blows air in the lungs of both smoker and non-smoker to illustrate the difference. The very first thing you can notice is the color; the black lungs are the smokers’, and the pink, healthy looking ones are the non-smokers’. Also, the video shows that smokers’ lungs hardly expand after air is pumped into them, and the non-smokers’ lungs expand normally.