Consequences of Excessive Smoking and Tips to Quit Smoking

22 January, 2019

If you are a smoker, you probably know that smoking is bad for your health; and you probably have a plethora of friends and family nagging you to quit this unhealthy habit too!

Every time you reach for a cigarette, you are increasing your likelihood of getting hypertension, heart disease, stroke, cancer, COPD, asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, osteoporosis, impotence, etc, to name a few. Aside from the nicotine in cigarettes, there are another 4,000 potentially dangerous chemicals in its smoke, with 60 of them documented to cause cancer. Smoking is responsible for 90% of lung cancers, 80% of COPD and about 17% of deaths from heart disease. Smoking is also known to decrease lifespan by at least 10 years.

But since you are still feeling hale and hearty on the outside, you might not get frightened off by these conditions that might only hit after another decade. So what do you do – you carry on of course! But here’s a small peep into what happens every time you light up a new stick…

Tobacco smoke contains tar which gets deposited in your lungs; tar also contains carcinogenic chemicals that can induce formation of cancer. It also contains carbon monoxide, which binds to the hemoglobin in red blood cells and reduces their oxygen-carrying capacity; such people are often breathless and tire easily. Cigarette smoke also contains oxidant gases that make blood more likely to clot. Presence of benzene causes cell damage at genetic level, leading to different forms of cancers.

Smoking damages the lining of arteries, making them narrower and is a leading cause of heart disease, angina or stroke. Carbon monoxide reduces oxygen in the blood, thus making the heart beat faster; nicotine stimulates adrenaline, making the heart beat faster also. End-result is high blood pressure and overload of the heart. Quitting smoking seriously reduces these risks.

Smoking also causes eyesight loss including cataract and age-related macular degeneration.

It also makes the smoker look older than normal as prolonged low oxygen levels make the skin look saggy and sallow. It can also lead to premature graying of hair or loss of hair.

Oral health is affected with yellowing of teeth, gum disease and a persistent offensive bad breath that limits your social circle.

Reproductive issues like an early menopause in women and impotence and erectile dysfunction in men have been reported in relation to smoking too.

Smokers are also more likely to develop osteoporosis due to the toxic effects on the balance of hormones like estrogen, which is needed to keep bones strong and healthy.

If these aren’t reasons enough to quit, then think of those around you. About 600,000 deaths occur globally every year due to secondary smoking, so extend your love for friends and family by exposing them to secondary smoke.

Quitting smoking will improve your health, your finances, your self-esteem, your family-relations and your social circle. Within a few hours of quitting, your oxygen saturation, blood pressure and heart rate will normalize. Within a few weeks you will stop producing phlegm, cough or wheeze and improve lung function. Within a year, your risk of cardiovascular disease will become half and within five years, your risk of cancer will normalize. Your risk for dementia, macular degeneration, hearing loss, thyroid disease, impotence and osteoporosis will all improve.

Quitting smoking is a brain game – get active and outdoors; take help of friends and family. Get your doctor to prescribe nicotine gum or patches. Stay away from smokers and keep your hands BUSY. Throw away all ashtrays, lighters, etc. Practice meditation and snack on low-calorie foods to keep your mouth busy. Within 2 weeks, you will be under control of yourself!