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Closeup of a man exhaling smoke while holding a cigaretteSmoking affects nearly every organ in your body, especially your lungs. Every time you smoke a cigarette, you damage your lungs and airways and prevent them from functionally properly. You also subject your lungs and airways to harmful, acute side effects, including troublesome coughing and wheezing.

Other side effects are more serious, causing long-term changes to your lungs that occur slowly but last a lifetime. Some of the most dangerous, potentially fatal health issues caused by smoking are pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, COPD, and lung cancer.

Chronic Cough And Infections 

Smoking causes inflammation in the small airways and tissues of your lungs, causing your chest to feel tight. It also makes you feel short of breath and wheezy. This inflammation builds up the more you smoke and can turn to scar tissue that provokes physical changes in your airways and lungs.

Scar tissue makes it harder to breathe and can cause a chronic, mucus-filled cough. As the amount of mucus increases and thickens, your lungs can’t effectively clean it out, which clogs your airways. This clogging is what keeps you coughing, but it can also make you more prone to infections, including more frequent colds, bouts of flu, and pneumonia. You also may not respond well to flu vaccines.

Decreased Airflow And Asthma

Decreased airflow from clogged airways can make asthma symptoms harder to control. Asthma is a long-term inflammatory disease that attacks your airways, causing coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. While there isn’t a cure for asthma, it can be managed with various medications, including rescue inhalers. However, smoking can cause many inhalers to be less effective, making your asthma symptoms worse.

Increased Risk Of COPD

Smoking cigarettes is a major cause of COPD, aka chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a progressive condition that gets worse over time. COPD blocks airflow into and out of your lungs, making it difficult to breathe.

There’s no cure for COPD, and it’s the third leading cause of death by disease in the nation. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are two forms of COPD and two more possible side effects of smoking. Chronic bronchitis causes you to develop a long-lasting cough that produces excess mucus, effectively blocking your airflow. Emphysema destroys your lung tissue over time, making it difficult to breathe and potentially causing death.

Increased Lung Cancer Risks

Lung cancer is the most severe potential side effect of smoking. Cigarette smoking is linked to approximately 80% to 90% of lung cancer deaths in the U.S. If you smoke, you’re 15 to 30 times more likely to fall victim to lung cancer than those who don’t smoke. Lung cancer can be fatal, and the longer you smoke and the more cigarettes you smoke, the greater your risk of getting lung cancer.

Common symptoms of lung cancer include a long-lasting and worsening cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, wheezing, and chronic and recurring infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Other symptoms may arise if lung cancer spreads to other parts of your body.

Treat The Side Effects Of Smoking At Respacare

Our team of board-certified physicians at Respacare in Bridgewater, New Jersey, provides a wide range of services, including advanced treatment for breathing disorders that significantly impact your quality of life. We can also treat lung diseases and breathing problems brought on by smoking, such as asthma, bronchitis, COPD, and emphysema. Contact us at 732-356-9950 to discuss your breathing concerns with our pulmonary specialists today.

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