Consequences of smoking: the respiratory system


We associate the negative effects of smoking with lung diseases – including cancer. And rightly so – many years of research and analyzes confirm the cause and effect relationship between nicotine addiction in the form of smoking and lung cancer. In Poland, it affects an average of 30,000 people a year! And although this is one of the most dangerous consequences of smoking, unfortunately, apart from it, we also distinguish a number of negative consequences that appear throughout the entire respiratory system. Among them you can certainly distinguish:

  • impaired bronchial function, manifested by a person with nicotine addiction inability to expectorate mucus and cough, which is most intense in the morning, after getting out of bed. Why is this happening? Of course, the tar in cigarette smoke goes to the bronchi, irritating the cilia on the mucosa. This, in turn, causes mucus gland hypertrophy (that is, increased mucus production), as well as weakened cilia movement (that is, as a result, difficulties in “evacuating” mucus from the bronchi);
  • neoplasms of the respiratory system organs other than lung cancer, including – cancer of the larynx, cancer of the throat, esophagus and cancer of the mouth;
  • dryness of the pharyngeal mucosa, leading to much more frequent infections of the upper and lower respiratory tract;
  • the famous smoker’s cough, which is unfortunately one of the effects of smoking, which does not stop immediately after quitting the addiction. Smoker’s cough is a specific, “barking”, dry cough that occurs in volleys and often leads to significant irritation of the throat. It is often the body’s reaction to the dry mucosa of the throat and mouth.
  • Smoker’s cough may be one symptom of chronic bronchitis caused by smoking;
    other severe lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema.

The above-mentioned consequences of smoking, however, are not all the effects of this addiction on the respiratory system. Significant reduction in respiratory capacity is observed in smokers, leading to dizziness, fainting, or at least frequent shortness of breath and rapid, shallow breathing. Additionally, nicotine addiction and active cigarette smoking contribute to episodes of sleep apnea and snoring.


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