It's not just the well-documented smoking side effects that hit you where it hurts; every organ in your body suffers to some degree, from head to toe. Even the minor health complaints that we put down to stress and fatigue, such as insomnia, headache and facial lines are consequences that arise from inhaling cigarette smoke.
As with obesity and alcoholism, smoking is one of the most dangerous lifestyle addictions to date. The good news is that you can stop before it’s too late , regardless of your age, gender or health.
To give you a more acute insight into why you should consider quitting nicotine, below is an anatomical guide of the most common smoking related health problems.
Facial wrinkles – Smoking ages skin by eating away at proteins, thereby restricting blood flow. This results in dry, leathery and wrinkled skin around the lips and eyes.
Skin discolouration - One of the harmful substances used in cigarettes is tar, which collects on the fingers, fingernails and teeth leaving a yellowish-brown coloured stain.
Dental health - Smoking interferes with the mouth's chemistry, creating excess plaque and yellowing teeth. There is some evidence that smoking contributes to tooth decay. Smokers are one and half times more likely to lose their teeth.
Psoriasis - Smokers are said to be more likely to develop psoriasis, an inflammatory skin condition that is similar to severe cases of eczema in appearance.
A smoker may temporarily lose the sharpness of smell, taste and hearing due to nicotine addiction. After quitting the senses return to their normal levels.
Cataracts - Smokers have a 40% higher risk of cataracts, a condition that can lead to blindness. Smoke causes cataracts by irritating the eyes and by emitting chemicals into the lungs which then travel to the eyes via the bloodstream.
Bronchitis – As with asthma, bronchitis is caused by inhaling irritants like cigarette smoke. Symptoms include cough, wheezing, chest pains, and fatigue.
Emphysema – Emphysema produces a swelling and rupturing of the lung's air sacs that limits the lungs' capacity to receive oxygen and give out carbon dioxide. When necessary, a tracheotomy is performed on the patient to provide assistance in breathing correctly. Chronic bronchitis results in a painful cough and breathing difficulties.
Headache - Nicotine, one of the components of tobacco, narrows the blood vessels in the brain leading to headaches. Even second-hand smoke can contribute to headaches.
Stress – Evidence has shown that nicotine dependency can increase stress rather than acting as an aid for mood control.
Insomnia – Scientific research concludes that healthy smokers are four times as likely as non-smokers to report feelings of unrest after a night's sleep.
Cancer – One cigarette contains more than 40 chemicals that are known to cause cancer. The likelihood of developing lung cancer is 20 times stronger in people who smoke. Lung cancer is the most common of all cancers, surfacing in 90% of men and 80% of women who contract the disease. There is a direct correlation between the length of time smoking and the risk of cancer, which may strike in different areas of the body; nasal, oral cavity, larynx, oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, cervix. There is also strong evidence to suggest that smoking can lead to breast cancer.
Heart problems - Smoking-related cardio vascular diseases are responsible for over 600,000 deaths each year in developed countries. Smoking pushes heart rate above normal causing all kinds of potential problems including high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. At worst, the heart problems initiated by smoking can be fatal.
Smoking can damage the DNA of a sperm, leading to a miscarriage or birth defects in a newborn. Smoking also lowers sperm count and restricts the blood flow to the penis, which can cause impotence. A smoker is also said to be at a higher risk of infertility. In addition, the effects of nicotine can lower oestrogen levels causing premature menopause.
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