Smoking can cause a lot of biological damage to the human body.
The consequences of smoking are of a diverse nature, they vary from:
Effect of tobacco smoke on the organism
Smoking initially has negative effects at the cardiorespiratory level, but almost all organs are damaged by tobacco use.
Smoking relaxes the body and mind, reduces stress and anxiety, but the potential health damage is enormous.
The severity of the sequelae of smoking depends mainly on two factors:
- Tobacco dose
- Length of suspension time
In addition, the excess tar increases the risk of complications associated with smoking.
The cigarette filter partially but not completely reduces the toxins.
The electric cigarette is not carcinogenic because there is no combustion of tobacco and paper.
Short-term damage caused by smoking
- Dizziness – especially in people with a gene mutation of the nicotinic receptor CHRNA10 or CHRNB3.
- Nausea – the chemical substances contained in cigarettes can cause symptoms such as nausea.
- White tongue coating – the reason for this is that smoking causes dehydration and alteration of the mucous membranes.
- Loss of appetite – when nicotine reaches the brain, it affects various hormones, such as acetylcholine, adrenaline, beda endorphin, dopamine, norepinephrine and vasopressin. The result is loss of appetite, reduced sense of taste and smell.
- Acne – Smoking can make acne worse; this is shown by a study by researchers from the San Gallicano Dermatological Institute in Rome, in collaboration with the German Dessau Medical Center.
- hand tremors – this is an effect of nicotine; Research shows that a nicotine chewing gum has the same effect.
- Heartburn – nicotine causes:
- Weakening of the sphincter (sphincter) between the esophagus and stomach, which favors the reflux of acidic stomach contents.
- Decreased saliva production, making it easier for stomach acid to rise into the esophagus.
- The cough provoked by smoking leads to an increase in stomach pressure, which pushes the contents of the stomach to the esophagus.
- High blood pressure – after smoking a cigarette, blood pressure remains elevated for about half an hour.
- Tachycardia (tachycardia) – Nicotine has a stimulating effect because it promotes the release of adrenaline and dopamine.
Over time, the body gets used to the nicotine and the acute effects gradually subside.
As a rule, heavy smokers no longer perceive these symptoms; however, in people who smoke less than 5 cigarettes a day, they may become noticeable.
Long-term damage from smoking to organs
Lung damage from smoking
Smoking hits the respiratory system and causes various diseases of this apparatus.
Smoking is one of the main causes of emphysema.
Anyone who smokes at least 20 cigarettes a day suffers from this disease to a greater or lesser extent.
The toxins inhaled when smoking:
- are deposited in the lungs,
- damage the small cilia (cilia).
The main task of cilia is to prevent mucus from accumulating in the airways.
The damage leads to excessive deposition of mucus and, as a result, constipation.
In addition, the substances contained in tobacco smoke damage the alveoli, which lose elasticity, inflate and lose their ability to absorb oxygen from the air.
The lungs are less elastic and cannot stretch sufficiently.
The result is shortness of breath or dyspnea.
This disease is called emphysema and causes:
- Shortness of breath
- Blueness (cyanosis) due to lack of oxygen
Other diseases caused by smoking include:
- chronic cough,
- bronchitis (due to the accumulation of mucus),
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, colloquially “smoker’s lung”),
- Asthma – Smoking can trigger an asthmatic attack.
Heart damage from smoking
- narrowing of the arterial lumen (inner diameter),
- increased risk of blood clots forming.
Smoking is a cause of oxidative stress, i.e. it leads to the formation of free radicals.
Smoking causes a 20-25% increase in white blood cells (leukocytes) in the peripheral arteries.
The increase in leukocytes on the surface of arterial cells is the first step in the development of atherosclerosis.
The result is an increase in inflammatory markers:
- C-reactive protein (CRP)
- Tumor necrosis factor α (short: TNF-α)
The number of cytokines (chemical substances that serve as means of communication of the immune system) that play an important role in inflammatory processes also increases, which leads to increased interaction between leukocytes and epithelial cells (inner membrane or mucous membrane of the arteries).
In addition, smoking causes:
- increased adhesion between monocytes and cells of the endothelium (innermost wall layer) of the veins;
- Inflammation of the inner venous wall.
Tobacco smoke contains dangerous substances, which results in a change in blood flow in the body.
The carbon monoxide contained in tobacco smoke combines with hemoglobin and has a negative effect on the oxygenation of the organs.
Effect of smoking on lipids in the blood
Smoking can increase the risk of atherosclerosis, which means the accumulation of fat in the arteries and thus a narrowing of the blood vessels.
The consequences of smoking are:
- increase in LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides,
- drop in HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol),
- Oxidation of LDL cholesterol.
Atherosclerosis is an important risk factor for cardiovascular diseases:
Smoking and cancer
Smokers have a higher risk of developing cancer than non-smokers. The carcinogenic substances in cigarettes (e.g. tar) can cause cancer to:
- Oral cancer.
Head and neck cancer is very common in smokers, it usually begins:
- on the lips,
- under the tongue.
In about 90% of cases, lung cancer is caused by smoking.
Smokers have an increased risk of cervical cancer.
Smokers can also develop other types of tumors:
- Laryngeal and throat cancer
- Stomach and esophageal cancer
- Neoplasia on kidney and bladder
- Liver cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
Fertility damage from smoking
The negative health consequences of smoking also affect the fertility of:
For a safe pregnancy, all pregnant women should stop smoking.
The functionality of the male sexual organs depends on blood circulation.
Nicotine is a highly vasoconstrictive agent and hits the blood vessels in three ways:
- It leads to vasoconstriction.
- Damages the inner wall of blood vessels and impairs the ability of vessels to relax, which causes the increase in blood inflow.
The nicotine also damages the veins of the penis, which maintain the erection.
- The free radicals of smoking reduce the amount of nitric oxide in the blood. This substance has a dilating effect on the blood vessels of the genitals; thus it increases blood flow and promotes erection.
Skin damage caused by smoking
- the subcutaneous fatty tissue thins
- and dries out, causing wrinkles.
The skin damage is mainly found in the elastic fibers.
Other skin changes:
- The complexion becomes gray,
- the skin is dry,
- the fingertips yellow.
Tooth damage caused by smoking
Smoking can cause the following damage to the teeth:
- Plaque and tartar
- Gingivitis due to the reduced supply of oxygen-rich blood to the gums
- Gum shrinkage
- Tooth loss due to periodontitis
- yellowish spots
- Taste disorder
Bone damage caused by smoking
A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, conducted by the University of Cincinnati, Pennsylvania and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, shows a link between smoking and osteoporosis.
Women who start smoking in adolescence have a lower bone density and thus suffer from osteoporosis in old age.
Smoking reduces bone density, so women are more likely to have bone fractures, such as:
Eye damage caused by smoking
Heavy smoking leads to a degeneration of the yellow spot (macula) in the eye, as a result of which visual acuity decreases more and more.
Smokers also have an increased risk of cataracts (clouding of the lens).
Diseases caused by smoking include:
Further damage caused by smoking
Diabetes: A study by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services shows a 30-40% increased risk of diabetes compared to non-smokers.
Smoking-induced insulin resistance is caused by:
- an increased level of cortisol in the blood, which favors abdominal obesity;
- the presence of insulin receptors in the beta cells of the pancreas, which increases the amount of insulin in the blood.
- increased production of free radicals.
Other diseases caused by smoking include:
Doctors believe that the inhaled smoke causes structural damage and weakens the body’s natural defense mechanism.
Those who smoke a lot over a long period of time are therefore more likely to suffer from infectious diseases than others.
When does the first damage become noticeable?
It cannot be said in general terms that the consequential damage of smoking occurs after 10 or 20 years, which depends first of all on how long and how many cigarettes have been smoked; there are also individual differences.
Occasional smokers can expect fewer consequences than heavy smokers, but damage occurs in any case.
Reversible and irreversible damage Irreversible damage
- Pulmonary emphysema
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The reversible damage concerns:
- sense of taste,
- Blood pressure
- Immune system, etc..
The risk of cancer (unlike smokers) decreases drastically 10 years after you quit smoking – but only if this happened before the age of 40.
Damage caused by smoking during pregnancy
Smoking during pregnancy can cause serious damage to health for:
- the expectant mother,
- the unborn child.
If pregnant women smoke regularly, the risk of
- ectopic pregnancy
- Detachment of the placenta from the uterus
- Malposition of placenta (placenta previa)
- Vaginal bleeding
The nicotine contained in cigarettes can cause a narrowing of the blood vessels in the umbilical cord, reducing the oxygen supply to the fetus.
Risks for the child:
- Premature birth
- lower birth weight
Passive smoking massively increases the child’s risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Cleft lip and palate (cheilo- and palatoschisis): Cleft formation in the upper lip or hard palate of the newborn.
- Clubfoot: Children are more likely to be born with an inward twisting of the feet.
- Defects of the limb: deformed or missing limbs.
- Abdominal cleft (gastroschisis): The intestine of the newborn penetrates through a hole that has formed in the abdominal wall.
- atresia (occluded anus): This malformation causes the displacement or blockage of the anus opening.
- Delay in development or infantile cerebral palsy.
In addition, the child has an increased chance of developing asthma if the mother smokes during pregnancy.
Dangers of cannabis smoke
Smoking weed or marijuana can have various therapeutic effects.
For example, cannabis can be used to relieve pain in cancer and increased eye pressure caused by glaucoma.
The negative consequences of cannabis smoke are:
- perceptual disorders,
- negative influence on memory.
Harmful consequences of passive smoking for minors
You don’t have to be an active smoker to suffer health damage from cigarette, cigar or pipe smoke.
Foetuses, infants and young children suffer severe damage from passive smoking because their organs are still developing, in particular:
If the mother continues to smoke after giving birth, her milk production decreases.
Harm caused by smoking in children
- All organs of the child are developing and inhalation of tobacco smoke can interfere with the formation of the lungs and brain.
Children who smoke passively tend to develop asthma and the situation can worsen if they continue to be exposed to smoke.
- Tobacco smoke can also lead to deterioration in:
- cystic fibrosis,
- chronic respiratory diseases,
- Children exposed to secondhand smoke often develop an infection in the middle ear (otitis).
The inhaled smoke irritates the auricular tubes (Eustachian tubes), a connection between the back of the nose and the middle ear.
As a result, inflammation and infection of the middle ear develops, which is very painful for the child.
Passive smoking can have several immediate consequences, including:
- Eye irritation, eye dryness and burning
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath in asthmatics
Negative consequences of smoking in adolescent and adult athletes
Oxygen is necessary for every cell of our body to survive and fulfill its task.
- Decreased physical endurance.
- Smoking leads to inflammation of the artery wall and increases the risk of heart disease.
- Increased heart rate.
- Smoking can cause an accumulation of tar and inflammation of the mucous membranes in the airways.
As a result, the resistance of the airways increases, which affects the oxygen supply to the body.