How Does Cigarette Smoking Affect the Lungs
Cigarettes are a euphemism for a cleverly crafted product that delivers nicotine in just the right amounts to keep the user hooked for life before killing the person – stated by WHO Director Harlem Brundtland.
One in every ten chronic smoker is killed by lung cancer, but the rest are not let off either – they suffer from other lung diseases like emphysema, asthma, chronic bronchitis and other forms of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
How does smoking hurt your lungs?Loss of lung elasticity - When you inhale the lungs expand and they are pulled back to their original state by the elastic tissues lining their inner walls. When you smoke, these elastic tissues get damaged due to deposits of tar. After a period of continued smoking, these tissues get so rigid that they fail to perform their function, so the lungs stay in an expanded state making it difficult to exhale. This condition is called emphysema.
Mucus clogging - The cigarette tar sticks to the thin hair like cilia along the nasal and throat passage causing them to get clogged. The function of cilia is to push the dirt accumulated mucus onto the mouth or nose for disposal. Once the cilia gets clogged it can no longer perform its function properly leading to mucus accumulation in the throat and nasal passage. Smoker cough is a common symptom among regular smokers, which is an attempt by the body to forcibly release the clogged mucus. This is how smoking affects your lungs by clogging up its protection from impurities and chemicals.
Reduction in dirt filtering - Another side effect of clogged cilia is that they fail to filter out the harmful chemicals in the cigarette smoke, with time these chemicals start accumulating in the linings of aveoli (air sacs) in the lungs. A clogged aveoli is dangerous because it hampers the oxygen and carbon di-oxide exchange with blood leading to decreased oxygen supply to the heart.
Air sacs malfunction - The air sacs lose their elasticity because of tar deposits and hence fail to expand and contract with each breath leading to congested air pockets. Many air sacs rupture because of undue pressure caused by these air pockets.
Carcinogenic deposits in the lungs - Continued deposits of tar along the linings of the lungs (over extended periods) leads to cell degeneration. Most of the chemicals present in the tar are carcinogenic in nature and hence are toxic to the living cells in the inner walls of the lungs. With time the accumulation of toxic chemicals forces the body to create a tumor around the affected area.
What are the lung diseases caused by smoking?The most common lung diseases caused by cigarette smoking are as below
How long does it take for lungs to get damaged?Lung damage starts with the first cigarette you smoke because of the introduction of tar. The body can manage for a while but starts giving in with time. Usually a period of six months to 1 year of heavy smoking is enough to onset lung diseases, usually indicated by the initial symptoms of smoker’s cough.
A chronic smoker is likely to lose out on 60% of his lung efficiency.
If you are a smoker, just imagine the foolishness of self-inflicting such damage to your own precious lungs. Breath is the foundation of life and this makes your lungs one of the most vital and irreplaceable organs in your body. This should be more than enough reason for you to give up on this addiction and choose health.