Did you know that every single substance contained in tobacco can harm not only your lungs and respiratory system but also your overall health? Whether you are the one who has the smoking habit or just that guy who happens to inhale smoke from a stranger puffing next to you, tobacco really can negatively impact your health. Once you breathe in the nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, acetone, and others found in tobacco, your risk of various health complications increases.
According to data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC on smokers in the United States, smokers have a mortality rate that is three times that of those who do not or never smoked. They also found that the effects of smoking sometimes do not manifest right away, but the damage and harm can be severe and go on for several years.
Below are examples of what can happen to your body and health if you smoke:
Stains on your teeth
Tobacco can cause yellow or brown stains to appear on your teeth, especially if you are a long-term smoker. It can make your teeth look very unhealthy, and even increase your risk of tooth loss, bone loss, inflammations, and infections.
Bad smelling hair and skin
Cigarette smoke and tobacco smoke have that distinct smell that can stick to your hair, skin, and clothes. The unpleasant odor that they produce can be so powerful and pungent that it will be there even if you have only been smoking for a few days, have only smoked a few sticks, or are only exposed to second-hand smoke.
Impaired sense of taste and smell
The substances that get into your body if you smoke can mess up your sense of taste and smell. They can decrease your appetite, as they can make it difficult for you to enjoy foods that you like to eat as much as before.
People who smoke tend to cough more than people who don’t. This condition is dubbed as “smoker’s cough,” and is due to damaged airways. The longer you smoke, the worse your coughing gets. This can be an embarrassing and bothersome thing to have, especially if you are in a public or solemn setting.
Various studies have found that smoking can negatively impact your eyesight. The elements present in tobacco and cigarettes can cause vision problems, and raise your likelihood of developing cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration, which is the number one cause of blindness in men and women who are over 65 years old.
Increased risk of bronchitis
Bronchitis is a medical condition characterized as an inflammation of the airways that transport air to your lungs, also known as the bronchial tubes. If you have it, you will experience coughing with mucus, wheezing, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath. It can happen not only to smokers but also to those that are exposed to secondhand smoke.
Damaged blood vessels
One of the most dangerous substances in tobacco is nicotine, which is a potent stimulant that is naturally produced by certain plants. If lots of it get into your systems, it can constrict your blood vessels and disrupt your blood circulation, increasing your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, low testosterone, erectile dysfunction, and other diseases and disorders.
Increased cholesterol levels
Smoking can ruin your cholesterol levels. It can increase your LDL or bad cholesterol, and reduce your HDL or good cholesterol. In addition, it can raise your triglycerides and total cholesterol, making you more likely to have a stroke, heart attack, angina, carotid artery diseases, peripheral artery disease, chronic kidney disease, and other life-threatening complications.
Increased risk of type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a type of chronic disease in which your body is unable to efficiently metabolize sugar or does not produce sufficient amounts of insulin for glucose maintenance. It is tied to various risk factors, including being overweight or obese, lack of exercise, and a history of the disease in the family; and triggers several signs and symptoms, such as increased hunger and thirst, blurred vision, sudden or unexplained weight loss, and slow-healing wounds. It is also more likely to strike you if you are a smoker.
Impaired sexual function
Smoking can cause problems in your sexual performance. The nicotine in tobacco can constrict blood flow to the different parts of the body, preventing enough blood from getting to your penis. As a result, getting and/or maintaining erections that are firm and long-lasting becomes difficult. Smoking can also lower testosterone levels in men, causing many problems, such as a decrease in sex drive or libido and reduced sperm count and quality, as well as an increased risk of prostate problems.
Tips to quit smoking
Quitting smoking is a hard thing to do. The substances contained in tobacco, especially nicotine, are highly addictive, and not getting your regular fix can cause strong cravings and withdrawal symptoms that can prevent you from functioning properly.
So, how do you stop smoking? Where do you start?
Choose a quit date
Pick an exact date within the next couple of weeks. This should give you sufficient time to talk yourself into quitting the habit, understanding why smoking is bad, etc.
Let your family and friends know
A solid support system is essential throughout this difficult journey. Their encouragement and support can keep you going during these trying times.
Get rid of all of your cigarettes and tobacco
Check your car, house, workstation, and other places for your cigarette and tobacco stash, matches, lighters, and ashtrays, and throw them all out. Clean and wash your car seats, clothes, curtains, linens, and other things to remove the smell.
See a doctor
Your doctor can give you advice on how to deal with your withdrawal symptoms. They may recommend lozenges, nicotine patches, or prescription medication.