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 scratches the surface about the health complications that can arise due to 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 really 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 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.
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 what your lungs will look like after smoking every day for 20 years (just in case the possible development of disease wasn’t enough).
Amanda Eller, a nurse from North Carolina, decided to upload videos to Facebook illustrating what a smokers’ and non-smokers’ lungs look like after 20 years. In the first video, she blows air into the lungs of the smoker to illustrate what happens to your lungs from smoking. In the second video, she blows air into the lungs of the non-smoker. You can easily tell which lungs belong to the smoker based on the color; the black lungs are the smokers’, and the pink, healthy looking ones are the non-smokers’.
Here are the two videos so you can see for yourself:
Cancerous, 1 pack per day for 20 years lungs ? versus heathy lungs. Still wanna smoke?
You can see that the smokers’ lungs hardly expand after air is pumped into them, and the non-smokers’ lungs expand normally.
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!