How cigarette smoke affects the respiratory system

Fact Checked

A healthy respiratory system is structured to protect the lungs from occasional exposure to cigarette smoke,  dust, smoke and other detrimental substances. Always bear in mind that cigarette smoke not only damages the protective mechanism of the lungs but also assaults it with harmful substances on a daily basis. In addition, secondhand smoke also carries similar dangers.

Regular breathing supplies oxygen from cell growth and essential functions all over the body. The blood vessels, lungs and the airways affected by health issues could not maintain this equilibrium. Over time, the respiratory effects of cigarette smoke can affect the overall physical condition of the individual.

Possible forms of exposure to cigarette smoke

Cigarette smoke can cause similar effects on the respiratory system regardless how it is ingested. Individuals who use tobacco inhale the mainstream smoke via the cigarette and secondhand smoke from the air.

Inhalation of any amount of secondhand smoke increases the risk for various health issues. Both children and adults can inhale the airborne secondhand smoke while pregnant women can transmit it to developing infants. The toxic particles that adhere to the clothes and hair of the smoker can contaminate the indoor environment as well. In addition, children are at high risk for this particulate.

Potential effects on respiration

Bronchial and throat irritation can occur after breathing in the first or secondhand cigarette smoke. After some time, individuals who smoke end up with scarred bronchi and lungs.

Cigarette smoke
Inhalation of any amount of secondhand smoke increases the risk for various health issues.

Health issues such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis can develop which can drastically disrupt with respiration. The obstructions in the breathing process prevent adequate oxygen from entering the bloodstream up to the heart.

If atherosclerosis is present due to smoking, it can also constrict the pulmonary blood vessels that transport oxygenated blood to the heart. Take note that this further diminishes the amount of oxygen that is pumped all over the body.

Effects on the immunity

It is important to note that cigarette smoke contains thousands of carcinogens. Daily dosage can increase the risk for the smoker to develop cancer on the respiratory tract until the chances of developing lung cancer is significantly higher than normal. Remember that smoking can also cause cancer of the larynx, mouth, throat, blood and lungs.

What are the effects?

The symptoms of irritation of the respiratory system after exposure to first or secondhand cigarette smoke include the following:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Phlegm
  • Shortness of breath

A decline in the respiratory function can be indicated by recurrent infections such as pneumonia and acute bronchitis. When it comes to chronic bronchitis, it is characterized by the daily “smoker’s cough” while emphysema is characterized by difficulty exhaling.

Considerations to bear in mind

Since respiratory issues develop in a gradual manner, individuals who are affected by cigarette smoke might not seek treatment until serious diseases have developed. Both emphysema and chronic bronchitis can lead to heart failure and other potentially deadly cardiopulmonary conditions.

Was this post helpful?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top

  • All content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.

The information posted on this page is for educational purposes only.
If you need medical advice or help with a diagnosis contact a medical professional