Most people today know that smoking can seriously damage their health, yet 38 million Americans still smoke, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). The terrible health effects of what smoking does to your lungs merely scratch the surface about the health complications that can arise from smoking.
If you smoke or know someone who does, read on to find out just how severely smoking can impact your well-being.
Here’s what smoking every day does to your lungs:
According to the NHS (National Health Service), smoking cigarettes every day poses the following risks to your lung and respiratory health:
- First of all, smoking cigarettes lowers your immune system, making you more susceptible to coughs and colds. It can lead to more severe and fatal diseases such as emphysema, pneumonia, and lung cancer. Smoking causes 84% of deaths from lung cancer and 83% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- Smoking narrows airways and destroys lung tissue, which makes it harder to breathe. People with COPD will find themselves short of breath much faster during activities and usually have a persistent cough with phlegm and frequent chest infections.
- You can also get mouth and/or throat cancer. Smoking causes more than 93% of oropharyngeal cancers (cancer in the part of the throat).
Smoking every day can lead to inflammation build up in your lungs, which will make it harder to breathe and restricts air passages. Your lungs have tiny air sacs, or alveoli, that help with oxygen exchange. Smoking destroys these air sacs, and they don’t grow back, so you cause permanent damage to your lungs when you smoke.
If you’ve been wondering why smokers tend to get more colds and infections than non-smokers, it’s because smoking paralyzes and even kills cilia, the tiny hairs in your airways. These hairs clean out mucus and dirt so your lungs stay healthy and debris-free. Without these hairs, you will have a higher risk of infection because nothing is there to filter out contaminants.
Even if you don’t develop lung cancer or other lung complications, you still have a higher risk of mortality than non-smokers. According to a study in BMJ Journals, men and women in Norway who smoked 1-4 cigarettes per day had a significantly higher risk of dying from ischaemic heart disease and other causes. Women had a higher risk of dying from lung cancer.
Here is a video that demonstrates the damage cigarettes cause to the lungs
Now that we’ve gone over the risks of smoking every day and what it does to your lungs, we want to actually show you a video from the medical team at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). This clip covers many of the consequences of smoking cigarettes (just in case the possible development of disease wasn’t enough).
12 Benefits of Quitting Smoking
Now that we examined the “negatives,” let’s look forward to the positive. What are the benefits you’ll enjoy if you quit smoking?
Take a look.
1. You’ll live longer
Smoking shortens your life. In the United States, smoking is the leading preventable cause for early death. Tobacco kills up to half a million adults in the United States every year. Recent studies showed that the chance of death for those who smoke versus those who don’t smoke is three times higher. If you quit smoking, it increases your chance of living up to ten years longer. Having more years to enjoy your family and friends is worth the effort to quit smoking.
2. You’ll breathe easier
If you smoke, you’re likely to have a constant smoker’s cough. Your body is attempting to shed the chemicals from the tobacco. Quitting smoking improves your breathing, and you’ll be less prone to getting a respiratory illness like bronchitis, pneumonia, or asthma. Your chances of getting lung cancer can go down as much as 80 to 90% if you stop smoking for at least 15 years.
3. Your heart will be stronger
If you smoke as your age, your chances of having a heart attack or other cardiac diseases dramatically increases. Smoking causes your heart to beat faster. It also makes your arteries tighten up and can give you an irregular heartbeat. This makes your heart work extra hard and may cause a heart attack. Smoking is also known to cause high blood pressure and raise your chances of having a stroke.
4. You’ll taste your food
Smoking affects your taste buds. One study found that smoking hinders your ability to smell and taste. The nicotine in the tobacco acts like the drug morphine on your taste buds. They’re duller and unable to taste. People who stopped smoking are often surprised at how good their food tastes. It’s also thought that smoking for too many years can permanently damage your taste buds.
5. You’ll smell better
Second-hand smoke is the smoke from the tobacco in cigarettes, cigars, or pipes that gets breathed out by a smoker. Third-hand smoke is the contamination from second-hand smoke that gets left on your clothing, curtains, furniture, or carpeting. Studies show that being exposed to third-hand smoke regularly is dangerous and even increases your chances of getting cancer. If you smoke, your clothes and hair will smell of smoke. Candles, room freshener, or constant showers won’t rid you or your home of the smoke smell. It permeates everything.
6. Your teeth will be whiter
Tobacco stains teeth an ugly brownish-yellow color. This staining is because nicotine and tar in tobacco products have small participles that permeate your tooth enamel. E-cigarettes, which have nicotine juice in them, also stain teeth. These stains are hard to remove by regular brushing.
The only way to get rid of the stains is to have your dentist whiten your teeth, which can cost anywhere from $300 to $500 depending on where you live. Smoking also increases your mouth’s bacteria, which can cause excessive plaque and gum disease. Left untreated, you may end up getting gingivitis, a painful condition that causes your gums to bleed, swell and recede.
7. Drink less alcohol
Researchers found that people who smoke tend to drink more alcohol. Studies show that 80 to 95 percent of alcoholics also smoke cigarettes. Drinking and smoking at the same time, trigger the pleasure center of your brain, which makes you want to drink and smoke even more. When you quit smoking, you’ll lower your alcohol consumption. Of course, like smoking, drinking too much alcohol increases your risk for heart disease, obesity, and early death. If you’re not drinking and smoking as much, you’ll health will improve and you’ll feel better.
8. You won’t put others at risk
According to studies, every year in the United States, 53,000 people die from second-hand smoke. Second-hand smoke has thousands of different chemicals, many of which are toxic and lead to cancer. Young children exposed to second-hand smoke are prone to illnesses like asthma, ear infections, respiratory infections or SIDs, sudden death syndrome. It’s also risky for adults to breathe in second-hand smoke, raising their likelihood of having a stroke, heart disease, or lung cancer. When you quit smoking, you’re protecting your loved ones from dangerous conditions.
9. Your skin will look better
Cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide that starves the oxygen out of your skin, so it looks look leathery and dry. Nicotine in cigarettes will slow down blood flow to your skin, which gives your skin tone a very grayish pallor. Smokers tend to have excess wrinkles, especially around their mouths. They also are prone to age spots and going bald. If you want to look younger right away, stop smoking. You’ll be surprised at your improved appearance after in just a few months. You’ll look years younger, plus you’ll feel healthier.
10. You are less prone to psoriasis
Psoriasis is an auto-immune condition that makes your skin scaly, itchy, and dry. If you have psoriasis, you’ll be more prone to infections and stress. You may also suffer from a constant rash in the joints of your elbows, behind your knees, and underneath your nails. Although smoking isn’t the primary cause of psoriasis, smoking puts you at a higher risk of getting it. Studies show that smoking links to several chronic auto-immune inflammatory diseases like psoriasis. Your risk goes up exponentially the longer you smoke. Second-hand smoke may cause your children to be at risk of getting psoriasis in their lifetime.
11. You’ll sleep better
Studies found that smokers have more trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep, and are more apt to feel sleepy during their day compared to non-smokers. Researchers aren’t sure precisely why this happens, but it could be the lack of nicotine during the night triggers sleeplessness. Your body is craving nicotine. This is why many smokers get up and smoke in the middle of the night. If you want better to sleep deeper and longer, quit smoking.
12. Your voice won’t sound so hoarse
“She sounds like a smoker.” It’s true. Smokers have a deeper, hoarse sounding voice. This outcome is because the toxic chemicals in cigarettes inflame and stiffen your vocal cords. It also reduces the blood flow to your vocal cords, making them less flexible. The longer you smoke, the raspier your voice will become. If you stop smoking, there’s a good chance your voice can return to normal over time.
We all know how bad smoking is for us, but many people still smoke due to peer pressure, stress, or out of habit. However, each time you smoke a cigarette, you’re inhaling over 5,000 different chemicals, including tar and nicotine, into your lungs.
If you need a way to de-stress, try something positive like meditation, yoga, or exercise, because these methods will help you relax without all the added side effects and risk of death. Your health matters and only you can take charge of it with positive thinking and lifestyle changes. We hope this article and the videos included will encourage you or a loved one to give up cigarettes and get healthier because you’re worth it!