The dangers of smoking
Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases and affecting the health of smokers in general. On average, people who smoke die about 10 years earlier than people who have never smoked. For every person who dies because of smoking, at least 30 people live with a serious smoking-related illness.
No matter how you smoke it, smoking harms and is dangerous to your health. There are no safe substances in any tobacco products. Cigarettes contain about 600 ingredients. When these ingredients burn, they generate more than 7 000 chemicals, according to the American Lung Association. Many of those chemicals are poisonous and at least 69 of them are linked to cancer.
Smoking also causes heart disease, strokes, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking further increases risk for tuberculosis, certain eye diseases, and problems of the immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis.
Skin, nails and hair
Substances in tobacco smoke actually harms the structure of your skin, and smoking increases the likelihood of fungal nail infections. Hair is also affected by nicotine – increased hair loss, balding, and greying have been known to be caused by smoking.
Poor oral hygiene
Sexuality and reproductive system
Nicotine affects blood flow to the genital areas of both men and women. For men, this can decrease sexual performance. For women, this can result in sexual dissatisfaction by decreasing lubrication and the ability to reach orgasm. Smoking may also lower sex hormone levels in both men and women. This can possibly lead to decreased sexual desire.
Smoking cigarettes can harm a female’s reproductive system and make it more difficult to get pregnant. In males, smoking can also affect the quality of the sperm and therefore reduce fertility.
Smoking while pregnant
If you smoke when you’re pregnant, you put your unborn baby’s health at risk, as well as your own. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking can affect pregnancy and the developing fetus in several ways, including:
- increasing the risk of ectopic pregnancy
- reducing the baby’s birth weight
- increasing the risk of preterm delivery
- damaging the fetus’s lungs, brain, and central nervous system
- increasing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome
- contributing to congenital abnormalities, such as cleft lip or cleft palate
The ill effects of smoking cigarettes do not only affect people who smoke. Second-hand smoke causes stroke, lung cancer, and coronary heart disease in adults. Children who are exposed to second-hand smoke are at increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, middle ear disease, more severe asthma, respiratory symptoms, and slowed lung growth.
Nicotine reaches your brain in mere seconds and makes you feel more energised for a while. But as that effect wears off, you feel tired and crave more. Nicotine is extremely habit-forming, which is why people find smoking so difficult to quit.
Once a person stops smoking, the benefits start accumulating.
When you stop smoking, your body misses the nicotine that you have been absorbing. This may lead to unpleasant feelings and a strong desire to smoke (a craving), all of which indicates that you were dependent on nicotine. Nicorette is a Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) that provides a smaller dose of nicotine than you would normally get from a cigarette, but enough to beat the cravings you get when you stop smoking.
Ask your health care provider can help you make a plan. There are a variety of nonprescription and prescription medications that can help you quit. Since smoking affects every body system, finding a way to quit is the most important step you can take to living a longer and happier life.
Disclaimer: All content on the The Local Choice Pharmacy is created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to serve as a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health advice.