The Effects Smoking Has On The Respiratory System

The Effects Smoking Has On The Respiratory System

The main function of the respiratory system is to transport oxygen from the air to all other parts of the body and get rid of carbon dioxide gas as waste by exhaling. Your lungs are a part of the respiratory system and work together with other organs to help you breathe. Even though all tobacco products are not safe, smoking affects your lungs the most.

Smoking affects the respiratory system in the following way;

  • It irritates the larynx, windpipe, voice box and airway.
  • It reduces how well the lungs function and causes shortness of breath.
  • Causes a defect in the cleansing and purification of the lungs, resulting in a build-up of toxic substances.
  • Permanent air sac damage
  • Increased risk of lung infections and symptoms such as coughing.

How the lungs and airways are affected

Increased infection and mucus

Smoking leads to the lungs aging faster. In addition to that it delays the ability of the defense system to protect you against infection. It should be noted that smoking leads to an increase in the size and number of cells that secrete mucus in the lungs and airways. Therefore, this leads to thick excess mucus. This is done in such a way that the lungs are not able to clean it effectively. Thus remaining in the airways, leading to clogging, coughing and making the smoker vulnerable to infection.

Reducing air flow

Smoking affects the air flow and reduces the space of ​​air flow and blood vessels in the lungs. Therefore, resulting in reducing the amount of oxygen reaching critical parts of the body. So smoking causes damage to the lungs and their tissues, leading to lung irritation and coughing, even if you smoke one or two cigarettes.

Destruction of the alveoli

Smoking leads to the destruction of the alveoli. The alveoli is the tiny air sacs that allow the exchange of oxygen gas in the lungs. So, the destruction of these alveoli represents a permanent loss or destruction of a part of the lung for it can’t grow again.

Reducing lung cilia

After a few seconds of smoking a cigarette, the movement of cilia in the lungs slows down. These are hair-like components that are arranged in the lungs to clean them. Therefore, smoking one cigarette leads to a reduction the movement of these cilia for several hours. This means in smoking in general leads to a reduction in the number of cilia, then they’re very few of them to clean the lung as required.

Scarring of the lungs

Smokers may get chest tension, panting, and shortness of breath. This is due to the tissues in the lungs being exposed to irritation. In this case, the continuation of this inflammation leads to the build-up of scar tissue. This in turn, leading to difficulty breathing and an irritation of the lungs for several years due to chronic cough and mucus suffering.

Lung diseases

Smoking exposes the lungs to many diseases, including cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and tuberculosis. These are the most common diseases that affect the respiratory system due to smoking. It has been signified that the underlying cause of more than 40% of deaths are linked to tobacco smoking. According to the World Health Organization, it should be noted that the doctor should be consulted immediately in the event of symptoms indicating lung disease. Also, the symptoms of lung diseases related with smoking may be similar to heart problems and lung conditions.

The risks of smoking on the lungs

Increase the severity of the common cold

Smoking affects the body’s ability to fight the common cold because it destroys the cells of the lungs. Smokers get these colds more than non-smokers, also the symptoms they get are more severe and persist for a longer period. Therefore, it is advised for those with colds not to smoke and stay away from smokers during this period.

Chronic bronchitis

A chronic inflammation can affect the large air ducts in the long-term. It may cause coughing and respiratory distress and drag on for weeks or months. This inflammation can also be a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Tuberculosis infection

Smoking increases the risk of developing TB disease, which leads to lung damage. According to the World Health Organization, a quarter of the world’s population suffers from dormant tuberculosis. This puts them at a risk of developing the active form of it. The risk of developing a TB disease increases in smokers twice compared to non-smokers. An active TB disease increases the risk of disability and death due to respiratory failure. Therefore, smokers with active TB disease are recommended to quit smoking immediately in order for a special treatment regimen.


This disease affects the air sacs in the lungs and causes fatigue, coughing and shortness of breath. It may also lead to depression, weight loss, heart and sleep problems too. Like the previous point this disease is also a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Other types of cancer

Smoking increases the risk of cancer of the throat, larynx, sinuses, nose, and voice box. Not only can smoking bring minor cancer but it may also increase the risk of many other types of cancer such as reproductive system cancer and bowel/urinary system cancer. You should see a doctor as soon as possible if you get any symptoms.

Lung cancer

Smoking in general or second-hand smoke is one of the main causes of lung cancer, which is an abnormal growth of cells. It may begin with the lining of the airways or in other areas of the lungs and lead to the growth of masses or tumors in the lungs.

This illness is accompanied by symptoms including coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, swelling of the neck, weak muscles , hoarseness, mucus and an fever. However, most of the time these symptoms do not appear until the disease progresses.

Other risks that smoking affects the lungs

Smoking is harmful to people with asthma in particular, in addition to being an unhealthy habit for all people. People with asthma suffer from difficulty breathing due to the swelling of the airways and their filling with sticky mucus. Therefore, smokers and people with asthma suffer from frequent and severe attacks.

Children who have asthma and live with smokers face the following:

  • More likely to get asthma attacks.
  • Going to the emergency room often because of asthma attacks.
  • Missing school due to asthma.
  • Difficulty in controlling and managing asthma.

Although children with asthma are exposed to many health problems as a result of second-hand smoke, it is also harmful to children without asthma as well. This is because it is likely to raise their risk of disease. They are likely to have respiratory infections and pneumonia. These children can also develop asthma even if they do not suffer from respiratory problems if they are exposed to ten cigarettes per day. This is because infants suffer from a decrease in lung growth in the case of smoking. So, smoking should be avoided in the existence of children.

The effect of smoking termination on the lungs

The lungs are one of the body’s main cleansing systems. As it takes air from the atmosphere and supplies the blood with oxygen to spread throughout the body, it also removes carbon dioxide from it, and thus smoking interferes with this slight balance in the body. Therefore, smoking termination has a positive effect on the body and its general health. The levels of carbon monoxide decrease and reach its normal levels after only 12 hours of quitting smoking, this allows more oxygen to circulate to the organs. Also the risk of lung cancer decreases in the long-term when you quit smoking.

Although the best protection from lung cancer is not smoking at all, the faster smokers quit smoking, the sooner the lungs will begin to recover and reduce the risk of cancer.

Reducing the risk of cancer

  1. Reduce the risk of getting throat cancer .
  2. Reduce the risk of lung cancer after quitting .
  3. Reduce the risk of developing throat and mouth cancers.

Lung re-cilia

Lung cilia are the first parts of the body to recover after quitting smoking. It grows and returns to its activity right after quitting cigarettes. Smokers may sometimes notice coughing more than usual after quitting smoking – this is a sign of the regrowth of the cilia, and in return, the good work of the cilia will contribute to resisting infection.

Stopping lung damage

It is suggested to quit smoking before the lungs are damaged permanently. Whereas, the scarring effect cannot be reversed, and it is notable that it is possible to notice ease of climbing the stairs. This is due to the reduction in the suffering of shortness of breath only two weeks after quitting smoking.

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