Health News Medical Advice

How Dangerous is Cigarette Smoke?

Cigarette smoke is extremely dangerous for both smokers and passive smokers. Smoking is considered to be one of the worst health habits and took first place in a ranking of annual deaths. Smoking causes more deaths yearly than illegal drugs, murders and car accidents. However, smoking is a form of dependency that is not as stigmatized as drug or alcohol use.

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Negative effects of smoking

There are different ways that cigarette smoke can affect the health, primarily by the harmful action of tar – a substance found in cigarette smoke. This damage accumulates in the lungs, airways, bronchi and receptors. This can lead to breathing difficulties, cancer and heart disease (due to low oxygen levels in the body).

1. Carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke disrupts the lungs’ ability to function, because it is absorbed into the bloodstream instead of oxygen. Over time, this will cause pulmonary and cardiac failure because these organs have to work harder to achieve and carry the oxygen in the entire body. In most cases, the result is sickness.

2. Cigarette smoke is even more dangerous when taking into account the effects of nicotine, another harmful substance. Nicotine causes addiction to cigarettes. Some studies suggest that people give up cigarettes harder than drugs. Besides causing addiction, nicotine increases blood pressure and heart rate.

3. Smokers die sooner. Studies have gotten to same conclusion: smokers die earlier than nonsmokers. Smoking shortens the average life of women smokers with 13 years, and of male smokers with approximately 14.5 years. Men and women smokers have a higher risk of dying between 35 and 69 years, than those who never smoked.

Diseases associated with active or passive smoking

Among the diseases that can be caused by inhaling cigarette smoke are heart disease, emphysema and lung cancer. All these diseases are potentially fatal. Those who are diagnosed with a disease associated with smoking are urged to quit smoking, but this is not always possible due to strong addiction caused by nicotine.

Cardiovascular disease:

• coronary heart disease
• inadequate blood circulation. Smoking causes narrowing of blood vessels and increases the risk of smokers to develop peripheral vascular disease
• abdominal aortic aneurysm

Respiratory diseases:

• lung cancer
• lung conditions. Because smoking causes damage lung airways and alveoli, this harmful habit can trigger emphysema and airway obstruction bronista.

Cancer:

Strong scientific evidence supports the theory that cigarette smoke can cause:

• acute myeloid leukemia
• bladder cancer
• cervical cancer
• esophageal cancer
• kidney cancer
• cancer of the larynx and pharynx
• mouth cancer
• stomach cancer.

These problems can damage a person’s quality of life.

Passive smoking

Cigarette smoke is just as dangerous for those who smoke and those who are around smokers. This is because passive smokers inhale tar, carbon monoxide and other substances in tobacco smoke, in concentrated amounts. The smoke is just as harmful to nonsmokers, which may suffer from the same diseases as smokers. In addition, passive smokers have an increased risk of suffering from asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer and tuberculosis.

In most cases, children who live with smokers are more likely to exhibit frequent ear infections and diseases such as pneumonia or bronchitis.

Pregnant women should quit smoking and especially not be exposed to passive smoking because cigarette smoke can have negative health effects on the fetus. Babies born to mothers who live in the same house with smokers have an increased risk of having a low birth weight. Another serious condition that is susceptible to infants who were and still are exposed to smoke is the sudden infant death syndrome.

In addition to lung diseases, passive smokers have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Exposure to cigarette smoke can cause constriction of arteries as the oxygen levels will decrease. When this happens on a regular basis, it increases the risk of heart attack or other heart disease. Passive smoking also causes hypertension.

Exams and Tests

Diagnosing diseases associated with smoking is not difficult. Smokers should be open with their doctor and notify them what is the actual amount of tobacco consumed daily. Equally important is to tell the doctor, since when they have started smoking. This information can help your doctor better understand the risk to which the smoker was subjected and what diseases could affect that person.

On a physical examination, the doctor may find various signs and conditions associated with smoking. These signs include:

• brown staining of teeth, fingers or nails
• premature wrinkles
• typical smoker odor
• chronic cough that produces thick green sputum – a sign that may indicate the presence of emphysema.

Occasionally, a smoker may require pulmonary investigations which are performed to determine the amount of damage to the lungs.

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