Smoking has a detrimental effect on various organs on the body, but none are more directly affected than the lungs. After all, this is where all the smoke goes in soon after you take a puff. If you've been wondering how cigarette smoke can affect your lungs, read on.
Cigarette Smoke and Your Lungs:
The smoke that you inhale travels through your windpipe (trachea), down the bronchiole tubes, and into the air sacks (alveoli) within the lungs. This is where the regeneration of oxygen within our system takes place. The effects of smoking work in disturbing the balance that is maintained within the lungs; tar starts to deposit on the bronchiole tubes, and nicotine works in constricting the blood vessels.
The lungs do work in trying to get rid of this toxic build up by pushing up tar and other constituents up the bronchiole pipe, and this travels further up the trachea. This is what comes out in the form of phlegm. However, not all the build up manages to come out in this manner. Since the nicotine works in paralysing the cilia within the lungs, the lungs find it harder to expel the tar. While the cilium does get better after an all night's absence of cigarette smoke, habitual smoking can cause permanent damage to the cilia.
Chemicals such as hydrogen cyanide that are found in cigarette smoke attack the lining of the bronchial passage, and this can lead to 'smokers cough' as well as inflammation of the bronchi. Since the bronchi are weak, smokers are also more prone to getting bronchial infections. You would also be prone to chronic coughing because of the impaired mucus secretion.
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease):
Cigarette smoking has been recognised as a significant cause of COPD. Commonly referred to as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, these are actually two different conditions. While each of these conditions can occur alone, they can also occur concurrently. What this condition essentially results in is the blockage of air flow in and out of the lungs. In excess of 75% deaths due to COPD are attributed to smoking, and COPD is amongst the top ten causes of death in Australia (men & women).
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women alike. While it accounts for over 30% cancer related deaths in men, it accounts for over 25% of those in women. Additionally, existing or ex-smokers make up for around 90% of all lung cancer patients.
Signs of Trouble:
You should know your smoking is affecting your lungs adversely if you experience chronic cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, or excessive discharge of phlegm. Once you quit smoking you can slowly, but surely, tell the difference. Irrespective of how long you've smoked for you would experience relief from breathing related issues such as wheezing, shortness of breath, inflamed airways, cough, etc.
Second Hand Smoke and the Lungs:
It is also important that you realize what second hand smoke can do to the lungs of those around you. Being subjected to second hand smoke produces similar symptoms, and these include wheezing, shortness of breath, increased phlegm production, lung infections, etc. Do know that second hand smoke can also lead to lung cancer and COPD.