Common smoking effects on lungs

Smoking is a bad habit and an addiction that is hard to kick. It has detrimental consequences on vital body organs and overall health. In particular, we will take a look at smoking effects on the lungs including common diseases that are offshoots of this activity. We also tell you the symptoms and treatments of these illnesses.

Problems caused by smoking

When you light a cigarette, combustion occurs producing carbon monoxide and other toxic chemicals which you inhale and exhale. The respiratory system is badly affected and as such, smoking effects on the lungs include the following:

  • Lung Cancer

This is the most common type of cancer that is caused by smoking. In fact, more than 80% of lung cancer cases are due to smoking. Both men and women are affected. Symptoms depend on the type and location of the cancer. The first sign is persistent coughing. There might be blood in the sputum. Wheezing is also another symptom. A doctor can confirm the condition by performing an x-ray or computed tomography. Prevention methods include quitting smoking and avoiding or limiting exposures to cancer-causing substances such as asbestos, radiation, arsenic and nickel, amongst others. Treatment of lung cancer includes surgery if the disease has not spread outside the lung, oxygen and radiation therapy. If it is at an advanced stage, the main goal is to keep the patient as comfortable as possible.

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Smoking cigarettes is the number one cause of COPD. It may also be hereditary. Working in an environment with carcinogenic pollutants is also another reason. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are the two forms of COPD. The former is characterised by a persistent cough that is accompanied by mucus. Emphysema, on the other hand, is marked by shortness of breath. The lungs, in this case, are gradually perforated and destroyed over time.


Diagnosis of COPD is confirmed by tracing the history of coughing, physical examination and chest x-ray. Smoke cessation is the best cure for COPD. Shortness of breath is usually relieved by medications and oxygen therapy. At this point, doctors will not distinguish the 2 forms of smoking effects on the lungs. What is important is how the patient feels in relation to the severity of air obstruction. As such, treatment or relief measures are adjusted accordingly.

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