There is a warning printed behind every cigarette pack: Smoking is injurious to health. But do you know how much injurious smoking is? Let’s find out. When tobacco burns at 700ºC at tip of the cigarette, it produces some 4000 smoke constituents. And out of these 4000 smoke constituents more than 100 have been identified as potential causes of smoking related diseases. Most damaging three constituents are:
Tar: a carcinogen (cancer causing substance)
Nicotine: Increases cholesterol level in body, stiffens and narrows the blood vessels. It leads to cardiovascular diseases.
Carbon monoxide: It is responsible for reducing the blood’s ability to carry oxygen.
Tobacco smoke inhalation causes sudden responses within blood vessels and heart. Within the first minute of smoking heart rate begins to rise and within 10 minutes it increases by 30%. It all doesn’t end just here .There is a long list of medical conditions caused by smoking tobacco. Smoking causes cancer of multiple organs like lips, mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, kidney, ovary, rectum and bladder. Nicotine present in tobacco is responsible of causing medical conditions as serious as coronary thrombosis, cerebral thrombosis, if kidney arteries are affected, then kidney failure and if vascular supply of legs is blocked, it may even lead to amputation and gangrene .Carbon monoxide can trigger, worsen and prolong the respiratory conditions, such as common cold, asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and pneumonia.
In some studies done on smoker, it has been found that smoking contributes to diseases like dementia, reduced memory, shrinkage of brain, impotence in men, infertility in women, miscarriages in pregnant women and some other threats to fetus’ health.
Smoking cigarettes also intervenes with body’s ability of healing, especially bone healing, muscle injuries and it also leads to complications after surgeries.
The smoke coming out of burning cigarette tip and that exhaled by a smoker is collectively called secondhand smoke. Even when a cigarette is extinguished, its smoke lingers in air for hours. When secondhand smoke is involuntarily inhaled by a non-smoker, it puts him at risk of same health conditions as a smoker. An individual breathing in secondhand smoke has risk of heart disease increased by 25% and cancer by 24%.
Children and babies are more affected by passive or secondhand smoking. By breathing in secondhand smoking, babies become prone to chest infections and cot death or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Avoiding or quitting smoking
If you are a smoker, the first best thing you can do for yourself is quit smoking ASAP. But it’s not an easy task. You may find it disappointing that there is no single guaranteed method of quitting. On average it takes a smoker to make 5 attempts to give up, before he actually succeeds in the task. Your GP can help you in this regard. He may start with evaluation of level of addiction, any possible triggers and then finally prescribe one or more than one treatments as per your personal preference or needs.
There are a few methods to help a smoker in quitting.
Nicotine Replacement Treatment (NRT).Nicotine is the addictive factor present in cigarette. When body misses nicotine it causes craving of cigarette in smokers. NRT comes in different forms like gums, skin patches, nasal and mouth sprays. NRT releases a very lower amount of nicotine in bloodstream which lowers and finally diminishes craving for nicotine.
Zyban (bupropon) was used to cure depression at first but not its licensed medicine to help smoking cessation. Experts believe it effect brain’s addictive behavior.
Champix (varenicline) stops nicotine from binding to brain receptors and reduces craving for nicotine. It also reduces the withdrawal symptoms. Thus it increases a smoker’s success rate in quitting to 200%.
There are some other therapies like hypnosis and acupuncture. Research shows that people who take medication along with behavioral therapies can increase their chances of successful quitting from 3% to 30%.
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