As we all know, smoking has become a big part in today’s society. Men and women all over the world have let smoking become an unhealthy habit that they are addicted to and unfortunately taken priority over their own well being. People give different excuses for smoking, but at the end of the day it all leads to different serious side effects, most importantly medical problems such as irreversible damage to the lungs, one of the most important organs in our bodies. These negative side effects to the lungs can eventually lead to death for themselves as well as those around them.
Although the lungs plays such an important role in our bodies, smoking is the number cause to many diseases related to the lungs. Lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are just two of many diseases, which affect many smokers as well as those around them. In order to understand the damage that smoking causes to the lungs we must first understand its role. The lungs, are major organs in our body, which lie on either side of the heart in the thoratic cavity, carry vital functions.
Respiration or just breathing is the most important function carried by the lungs that we need for survival. When we breathe, the lungs take in oxygen and remove carbon dioxide. Another important function that the lung provides for us is their ability to defend against infections. Furthermore, the lungs have a system called bronchia, which produces mucus in the lung. This sticky fluid catches harmful things in our bodies such as germs, dust and dirt which we eventually cough up with the help of tiny hairs called cilia.
When we think of diseases associated to smoking the first thing that comes to mind to most of us is lung cancer. By definition, lung cancer is a cancer that forms in tissues of the lung, usually in the cells lining air passages. Lung cancer is the most preventable kind of cancer there is yet it is the number one cause of death among all cancers in both men and women. Genetics play a part in developing cancer but 85% of lung cancer is caused by smoking. In addition, second hand smoking also causes lung cancer. In fact, around 3,000 people die each year of lung cancer associated to second hand smoking.
Harmful substances in the smoke from cigarettes can cause great damage to the lungs, therefore the more a person is exposed to smoking, the greater chance they have of getting lung cancer. Lung cancer in its early stages may not show many symptoms but as the cancer progresses symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, a cough that does not go away, coughing up blood and frequent lung infections such as pneumonia. Finally, there are two types of lung cancer non-small cell lung cancer and small-cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is slower spreading and it covers about 87% of lung cancers.
People who develop small-cell cancer have a very small chance of survival. This type of cancer originates in the large, central bronchi and spreads very quickly. Treatments to lung cancer may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and targeted therapy, but the best way to avoid lung cancer is to quit smoking or better yet to never start. Another irreversible disease caused by smoking is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease also known as COPD. COPD is the result of two conditions, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
In emphysema, the tiny air sacs that we use to breathe in and out get damaged and cannot stretch like they’re supposed to. In chronic bronchitis, get inflamed and produce a lot of mucus making it hard to breathe by blocking the airways. Furthermore, COPD is a slow progressing disease that decreases the ability of the lungs to maintain the body’s oxygen supply and remove carbon dioxide. Symptoms for COPD are similar to those of lung cancer, which include chronic cough, shortness of breath and mucus that comes up when you cough. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.
It mostly affects people over 40, and smoking causes approximately 80-90% of the COPD deaths. Unfortunately, there is no cure for COPD and the first thing people with COPD must do once diagnosed is quit smoking to prevent further lung damage. Inhalers, steroids and anti-inflammatory are some of the medications that help treat COPD. Lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease also known as COPD are two very serious lung diseases related to smoking. Unfortunately, smoking has become a terrible habit that throughout the years has cost the lives of many people.
Even though laws try to make it harder for people under 18 to smoke and we are taught the negative side effects of smoking, it has become such a world-wide epidemic that so many people do it without thinking of the long term irreversible damages that it will most likely bring to their health. Although there are other factors out there that cause lung disease as well as many other deadly diseases, as a society we need to realize that when it comes to smoking we do have the power to prevent it whether is to not smoke at all or quit as soon as possible.