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What smoking does to your body

Smoking is probably the worst form of addiction, owing to its deteriorated effects on health. Cigarette smoke contains more than thousands of harmful chemicals apart from nicotine, soot and tar, which has the potential to affect almost all the organ systems of the human body and leads to various types of cancer. Cigarette smoking contributes majorly to morbidity and mortality all over the world. Physical and Psychological dependence upon smoking is stronger than alcohol dependence. Active as well as passive smoking are equally dangerous and half of the population, which smokes, dies prematurely as complication or disease caused by smoking, therefore smoking is considered as one of the preventable causes of death.

Magnitude of disease caused by smoking are very high and can be enumerated under chronic and acute effects.

Various chronic illness caused by smoking are –

Respiratory system: Sinusitis, Rhinitis, altered smell, Pneumonia Tuberculosis, Emphyema, chronic Bronchitis, and Lung cancer

Gastrointestinal system: Peptic ulcer disease, gastric reflux disease, Stomach Cancer and cancer of the pancreas.

Nervous system: Strokes and brain atrophy

Cardiovascular system: High Blood pressure, heart attack and heart failure

Urogenital System: Cancer of kidney and urinary bladder, Erectile dysfunction and cervical cancer in female

Endocrine system: Early diabetes and thyroid abnormalities

Blood abnormalities: Increased clotting tendency and various blood cancers

Other problems related to smoking

I.            Defects in foetus born to mothers who smoke

II.           Blindness due to Cataract, glaucoma and macular degeneration

III.          High Cholesterol levels

IV.         Loss of appetite

V.           Infertility

VI.         Osteoporosis and risk of Bone fractures

Acute or immediate effects of smoking: There is a Ciliary defence mechanism in the airways, which prevents the entry of particulate matters lungs. It gets paralysed for the next 24 hours by smoking of cigarettes, so the ill effects of smoking continuous even if you smoke only one cigarette in a day. Cause of Ciliary defence mechanism puts you on the risk of developing nose throat and Lung infection. Upon smoking fingers turns somewhat yellowish brown and breath, hair and clothes will have a peculiar smell. One can also suffer from allergies, runny nose and fever with itching.

Why giving up smoking is difficult? 

Cigarette smoke contains a powerful chemical named "Nicotine" which signals the brain within seconds of smoking and creates a feeling of well-being, one feels energetic for some time, but with time as this affects waves off, a sense of tiredness, lethargy and irritability sets in, which leads to craving for more smoke. Sudden physical withdrawal from smoking leads to irritability, anxiety, mood disorder, headaches and sleep problems.

Drugs with Rehabilitative measures: On getting motivated to quit smoking, one should consult a Doctor and take proper advice. There are many medications and rehabilitative measures, which gradually help in quitting the habit.

Dr. Prabhat Ranjan Sinha
Consultant 
Internal Medicine

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