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How does smoking affect the respiratory system

Smoking and health

Smoking is just a bad habit. It has no positive effects on the organism, but can contribute to development of a number of dangerous and life-threatening respiratory system diseases. Beside the direct negative consequences on the organism of the smoker, smoking also pollutes air and forces the nearby persons to smoke passively, as they inhale all the particles from the tobacco smoke that the smoker inhales. Nonsmokers health is thus exposed to deterioration for no reason.

Why is smoking bad for health?

We breathe because our cells need oxygen for metabolic processes, and because our cells need to get rid of the toxic carbon dioxide that is a product of the metabolism. Oxygen is a constituent of the air and we take it in through the lungs. Carbon dioxide is released in the atmosphere, also through the lungs. Before the air reaches the lungs, it needs to get there. It is inhaled through the nose (or the mouth) and then travels to the lungs through the ducts of the respiratory system, namely, the pharynx, the trachea, and then it enters the lungs through the bronchi. In there, air travels through a system of branching ducts until it reaches the alveoli, where the exchange of gases between the air and the blood takes place.

The lungs are never completely emptied when we exhale, as some portion of air always remains inside. In smokers, this air is full of dangerous particles that damage the walls of the lungs, or can cause other, more sinister types of damage. Tobacco contains a substance known as nicotine, and a certain amount of tar. Nicotine is a highly toxic substance which gradually kills cells. A substance known as benzopyrene is found in the tar. It is a known lung cancer trigger. Particles of tar stick to the sensitive passageways and surface of alveoli and block gas exchange.

Carbon monoxide, which binds to hemoglobin, the compound of red blood cells that carries oxygen, causes lack of oxygen in the blood and exposes the organism to gradual suffocation. Another compound of the tobacco smoke is hydrogen cyanide, which induces the build up of hydrocarbons, nitrous oxides, and oxidizing agents in the lungs. These chemicals damage the blood vessels and the heart and lead to health risks such as heart disease and stroke. Carcinogenic metals such as cadmium and lead are also found in the tobacco smoke. This is caused by the great ground-cleansing properties of the tobacco plant, as it is known to extract heavy metals and similar pollutants from the ground and stores them in its leaves.

Tobacco addiction is related to nicotine addiction. Like all other addictions, it is connected with a strong feeling of discomfort when the substance that created the addiction is not taken regularly. Attempt to give up the habit is stressful and painful, both emotionally and physically, and many people are unable to bite the bullet, continuing with this slow poisoning.

Diseases and conditions caused by smoking

It is known that smoking causes mouth cancer, lung cancer and throat cancer. It also causes chronic bronchitis and makes it hard to breathe. Miscarriages and premature deliveries are closely connected with smoking during pregnancy.

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