Contributed by- Dr. Dhrity Vats
Do you soak in the foggy smoke which you exhale with every puff or you are doing it for the sake of looking cool? Well, now a day’s people are getting sensitized towards smoking and any kind of tobacco use isn’t that cool anymore. Tobacco use is prevalent in all strata of society. It is available in the market easily depending on your pocket. From bidis to cigarettes, chewable tobacco to hookahs, cigars to pipes and to suit the affluent, there are e-cigarettes available as well.
Irrespective of how the tobacco is inhaled or chewed, the damage it does is same. The extent of damage may vary. Chewable tobacco is directly in touch with the oral cavity hence damages this part, however, the inhaled tobacco damages the lungs and windpipe. Statistics show that tobacco use is the single greatest cause of preventable death globally. It’s best to avoid the health risks associated with tobacco products. To understand why there is a regular urge to use tobacco and the damage it can cause and a few tips on how to control the same, read on.
Why Do You Wish To Smoke?
Some of you might have started smoking due to peer pressure or seeing someone with a cigarette in hand feels as if it gives a confidence boost. Everyone has a different trigger to smoke. But, once the habit develops then you don’t need a reason to smoke. Different individuals have varied sequence of events which compels them to smoke. Like the time of day, your company, your place of being, indulgence in activities, cravings and the kind of mood, i.e. happy, stressed, bored etc. Nicotine is present in all the smoked tobacco products which is a stimulant and is one of the main factors leading to continued tobacco smoking. Nicotine infuses with the blood cells and therefore urges you to smoke when the nicotine levels in the body go down.
Forms Of Tobacco Used
There is no safe form of tobacco use. All forms contain nicotine and can cause addiction and health problems. They are available in the market depending on the pocket size. Tobacco users belong to every strata of the society. They are of varied types like:
- Chewable Tobacco aka Tambaku
- Cigars or little cigars
- Dip a powdered tobacco
- Dissolvable tobacco
What Makes Tobacco Smoke Dangerous?
Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body, causing many diseases and reducing health in general. The most damaging components of tobacco smoke are:
- Nicotine – which is an addictive product that makes one crave for more.
- Tar – Tar is sticky and brown, and stains teeth, fingernails, and lung tissue. Tar contains the carcinogen benzo(a)pyrene.
- Carbon monoxide – This fatal gas combines with blood more easily than oxygen and therefore leads to damage to different organs by reaching through the blood stream.
- Hydrogen cyanide – The lungs contain tiny hairs (cilia) that help to clean the lungs by moving foreign substances out, which is paralyzed by this gas. With due course of time, the lungs get poisoned.
- Radioactive compounds – Tobacco smoke contains radioactive compounds that are known to be carcinogenic.
Effects Of Tobacco Use
Tobacco as a habit can cause irreversible damage
Brain & Central Nervous System: Nicotine in tobacco is a stimulant for the brain. It reaches the CNS in mere seconds and gives an initial energy boost. After some time, when the effect subsides it leaves a craving for more. Nicotine makes you feel good when you are smoking, but it can make you anxious, nervous, moody, and depressed after you smoke. Smoking increases the risk of muscular degeneration, cataracts, and poor eyesight. It can even damage the taste buds which makes the food less enjoyable. Using tobacco can cause headaches and dizziness.
Breathing & Respiratory System: Smoking involves inhaling harmful chemicals which in due course of time, damages the lungs and the muscles which are used in respiration. It can cause irritation in the trachea or windpipe and the larynx aka the voice box. Smoking causes a lot of coughing with phlegm (mucous). Tobacco can cause emphysema (lung disease) and lung cancer. Children of parents who smoke are at a higher risk of coughing, wheezing, and asthma attacks than children whose parents don’t. This is hazardous and known as passive smoking. They have higher rates of pneumonia and bronchitis.
Heart & Cardio Vascular System: Tobacco consumption has numerous ill effects on the heart and the circulatory system. Nicotine gives a blood sugar boost making it very harmful for those already suffering with diabetes. Nicotine causes blood vessels to tighten, which restricts the flow of blood, increasing your heart rate and blood pressure and causes heart disease and heart attacks. If you are a long time smoker or a chain smoker, get a preventive heart care test to determine the risk of heart attack or stroke. If you try to do activities like exercise or play sports, your heart has to work harder to keep up. Smoking causes ‘stickier’ blood, which is more prone to clotting. In the long term, smokers are at greater risk of blood cancer (leukemia).
Skin & Mouth: Smoking and tobacco use causes skin discoloration, wrinkles, and premature aging. Your fingernails and the skin on your fingers may have yellow staining from holding cigarettes. Due to constant tobacco use, even in the form of chewable, the enamel of the teeth fades away and yellowing of the teeth is common. Use of tobacco and smoking causes the most serious oral condition that is oral cancer.
Sex & Reproductive System: Nicotine in tobacco gives a sudden systemic energy boost and can make you excited for sex once, but as the nicotine levels go down, it causes extreme lethargy and an inability for erection and libido. The sperm count even reduces or can be a malformed sperm. Continuous consumption of tobacco leaves an individual impotent as blood supply to the penis decreases. In females, it causes dryness in the vagina leading to a lack of libido. Check your hormones levels if you are facing this challenge.
Stomach & Digestive Tract: The gut of smokers becomes very sensitive. There is a regular complaint of constipation which is said to be relieved only after the intake of nicotine through cigarettes. It causes an increased risk of painful ulcers along the digestive tract. Tobacco users have reduced ability to smell and taste. Hence, it becomes important to test your gut health from time to time.
Tobacco smoke is enormously harmful to your health. There’s no safe way to smoke. Replacing your cigarette with a cigar, pipe, or hookah won’t help you. Smokers and tobacco users have an immense plethora of diseases and syndromes which can affect the health. It definitely is a difficult step to decide to Quit Smoking, but the decision is yours. A healthy long life or a suppressed ill life. Choose the life Healthians way.