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The Health Effects of Smoking

Why smoke?What happens to my body when I smoke?Smoking-related health problemsFurther Smoking Help & Advice

The majority of people are not properly informed about the health effects of smoking. Few realise just how quickly smoking starts damaging the body, while some people perhaps simply choose to ignore the information and naively believe it'll be easy enough to kick the habit before they develop a serious or life threatening condition.

Smoking effects your health and the health of the people around you. If you are contemplating stopping smoking, the information on this page will be of help.

Why smoke?

Why smoke?
For the majority of people, smoking begins during their teens or young adulthood. Smoking can either be seen as a way to fit in with peers, a way to rebel or a "cure" for boredom and/or curiosity. At first, the idea of smoking seems fun and harmless, regardless of the knowledge of the potential health risks.

For some, smoking evolves from smoking additional substances like cannabis. Those who wean themselves from a drug like cannabis may choose to just smoke cigarettes or roll-ups and become hooked on the nicotine. It's the addictive qualities of nicotine that we soon become tolerant to and are dependant on tobacco before we even realise it.

Then of course once a smoker, other factors come into why we want to/ like to/ need to smoke:
  • Emotions, however intense easily trigger the desire to light up; whether to comfort or calm nerves, unwind or enjoy time within a social atmosphere.
  • Many describe a cigarette break as just the thing they need to clear the mind, finding a quick smoke pleasurable or a get away from the stress or annoyance of a particular moment in time.
  • Others find that the overall feeling of using a cigarette like a prop and slowly exhaling the smoke makes them feel more confident, sexy, powerful, composed and(or) complete.

What happens to my body when I smoke?

Your lungs

From the first drag, delicate tissues inside your lungs and airways are being damaged by smoke. This irritates the lungs and produces mucus which over a short period of time, builds up and stimulates the coughing reflex. Mucous membranes up the nose and in the eyes also become irritated. Continued exposure and aggravation to the mucous membranes (particularly in the nose and throat) will eventually lead to smokers cough. The lungs are also subjected to Tar which over time can lead to serious health conditions.

Your brain

Seconds after your first inhalation, the lungs absorb Nicotine which races to the brain through the blood stream. When nicotine reaches the brain, the central nervous system is effected which may alter breathing patterns, accelerate heart rate and constricts blood vessels which increases blood pressure that puts more demand on the heart. It also activates receptors in the brain that effect your mood, muscles, memory, appetite and feelings such as pleasure, deservedness and calmness.

Your blood and your heart

In cigarette smoke is carbon monoxide. Red blood cells which normally carry oxygen, carry the carbon monoxide instead. The heart must work harder as to pump more blood through the body to keep other vital organs supplied with enough oxygen for function well. On top of that, the nicotine and other chemicals constrict the blood vessels, making the blood harder to pump through which increases blood pressure.

Smoking-related health problems

Short term/quick to develop health problems >>>

It's drummed into our heads whether through school or through adult life that smoking is bad. TV ads and government funded programmes put emphasis on the fact that one day you might get lung cancer, heart disease or suffer a stroke as a result of smoking too much. Indeed these are serious risks to one's future health, however there is so much more to what smoking does to our bodies than meets the eye. Many people are not made aware of problems which may start early in their smoking life. Express Chemist wonders maybe, if you knew more about these other health implications, would you think twice about lighting up..?
  • Wheezing & Shortness of Breath - The impact of smoking can have an affect on the lungs after only a short period of time. Lets say you have smoked 15 cigarettes per day for 1 year - That is still enough for many to notice difficulties in breathing when exercising or getting to the top of a large hill for example. With the wheezing usually comes coughing, in an effort to clear the air ways. (You can monitor breathing restriction by puffing into a Peak Flow Meter.)
  • Weaker immune system - Many nutrients and vitamins (Such as the antioxidant Vitamin C & Vitamin E and the energy releasing, body maintainer Vitamin B) are not absorbed properly. This increases likelihood of colds and chest infections and will probably leave you feeling tired and lethargic.
  • Impaired taste and sense of smell - The chemicals and tar in a cigarette coats the throat and mouth and over time damages the taste buds and nasal receptors. Because of this, many smokers who cook, over season their food (e.g. excessive salt) which contributes to the development of heart and high cholesterol related diseases.
  • Poor Oral Hygiene - Bad breath is caused by Tar and Nicotine gathering in the mouth. Regular smokers may suffer with a dry mouth, allowing bacteria to breed freely, contributing to the bad smell and making themselves more susceptible to mouth ulcers and gingivitis.
  • Brown Stained Teeth - Tar and Nicotine cause teeth and fingers to become stained with a brown/yellow residue. You'll notice that if you smoke a lot in your house, Tar and Nicotine will coat your furniture and fabrics too. Stained teeth can be improved upon by using a specifically formulated toothpaste like Clinomyn Toothpaste or a chewing gum such as Nicorette Icy White.
  • Eczema and Dry Skin Conditions - Firstly, Harsh toxins in cigarettes and cigarette smoke, dry out, irritate and damage the skin. Also, cigarette smoke constricts the blood vessels and capillaries, decreasing blood flow to the skin. Lastly smoking reduces Vitamin E and Vitamin A levels in the skin which are natural antioxidants that help to keep the skin healthy. Skin conditions as a result of this include: Dryness, Eczema and Dermatitis, Dandruff, Grey/dull and dehydrated skin and premature ageing & wrinkles.
  • Stomach ulcers - Smoking can negatively affect the digestive system, increasing stomach acid and causing heart burn. The likelihood of peptic ulcers, colon cancer and liver disease also increase due to the effects of smoking on the gut. You can test for these conditions with Home Test Kits...
  • Impotence - Smoking can reduce circulation by constricting blood vessels, providing less oxygen to the penis. Men who have smoked regularly over a long period of time may begin to suffer with erectile dysfunction. By tackling high blood pressure and improving circulation, impotence caused by smoking may be reversed.(Tablets for impotence such as Viagra are available on prescription. Herbal enhancers are available from Express Chemist (such as Horny Goat Weed) that are formulated and believed to improve male libido and blood flow. If you have a success story through using herbal products like Horny Goat Weed or Tribulus Terrestris do let us know. You can contact us at info@expresschemist.co.uk.)

Major and long term health risks >>>

  • High blood pressure - caused from increased heart rate due to low oxygen, constricted blood vessels and furring of artery walls. Faster blood flow and thinner blood vessels put a strain on the heart. (You can keep an eye on your blood pressure level using a blood pressure monitor.)
  • Cardiovascular disease - High blood pressure and furring of the arteries (cholesterol) are major contributors in heart and artery-related illness. Cardiovascular disease includes poor circulation, angina (chest pains), heart attack and stroke. (As well as cutting down on smoking, there are other ways to look after you heart. Click here to browse our Healthy Heart page...)
  • Lung, larynx, mouth or colon cancer - Caused by carcinogens in the smoke such as tar. If not discovered and dealt with quickly, these cancers are able to spread into the body and may end someone's life prematurely.
  • Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis - These conditions cause breathlessness and wheezing as the lungs can no longer function properly. Chronic Bronchitis is an ongoing problem. It blocks the airways and abnormalities develop. Emphysema is similar but may also cause parts of the lung to collapse.
  • Infertility - Smoking cigarettes can affect sperm production and may generate defective sperm. Ovaries may also become damaged by very heavy smoking. This can increase the likelihood of developing cervical cancer. (Express Chemist has lots of products to test your fertility...)
  • Digestive disorders/diseases - As already highlighted above, smoking can cause peptic ulcers and heartburn, however problems can become more sinister as the has to deal body deal with toxins in the smoke and work harder due to less oxygen in the blood. Long term conditions associated with smoking include, Liver Disease, Crohn's Disease and Gallstones (If you suffer with Gallstones, try A. Vogel's Berberis).

Further Smoking Help & Advice

Stop Smoking

Stop Smoking  
If you've decided to quit the habit, our stop smoking page has the products to help. From nicotine patches to nicotine gum, tablets and sprays, you'll find everything you need.   More >>>
 

How to Quit Smoking

How to Quit Smoking  
Quitting can be hard. Our 'how to quit' page gives you the help and information you need to quit smoking successfully.   More >>>

What is in a Cigarette?

What is in a Cigarette?  
Titanium dioxide, potassium nitrate and formaldehyde are just some of the many chemicals found in cigarettes. Find out just what else is entering your lungs with each puff!   More >>>
 

Coping After Smoking

Coping After Smoking  
Learn how to mange the cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with giving up smoking.   More >>>
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