Tobacco Products and the Human Body
No one picks up their first cigarette thinking it will change their life forever, but that can be a dangerous assumption to make. The prolonged use of any tobacco products will affect almost every aspect of an individual’s health, and many people feel as if it is almost impossible to break this habit on their own. As with many other dangerous substances, the first step in overcoming a tobacco addiction is learning about exactly what it is doing to your body.
Becoming Dependent on Tobacco Products
Most addictions develop in a series of stages. These stages can be as short as a few weeks or take years of casual use. This process will begin with the initial experimentation with tobacco products. Many people will try tobacco for the first time with friends or family members only to begin smoking on their own. As time goes on, they will build up a tolerance and need more nicotine in order to achieve the same effects. At some point, that individual will no longer be able to function normally unless they have nicotine in their system. This is when the casual use of tobacco has evolved into an addiction.
Initially, these respiratory problems might start off as nothing more than a cough that doesn’t seem to go away. Others will experience ongoing symptoms similar to seasonal allergies. For those who do not seek out help, these issues might evolve into chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.
COPD is an umbrella term that is used to describe a variety of progressive respiratory disorders. This includes bronchiectasis, non-reversible asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. Once a patient has developed one of these conditions, there will be no permanent treatment options. Instead, they will be forced to manage the side effects for the rest of their life. Many patients begin this process by signing up for smoking cessation programs to permanently quit tobacco products.
Developing cancerous cells is one of the most dangerous side effects of using tobacco products. Prolonged tobacco use will increase one’s risk of developing cancer of the nose, mouth, trachea, lungs, liver, stomach, pancreas, and kidneys. The reason for this is the fact that tobacco products contain over 70 different carcinogenic substances. Currently, over 155,000 Americans die from lung cancer every year. This makes tobacco one of the deadliest substances in the country.
Tobacco products put an incredible amount of strain on an individual’s heart and circulatory system. Immediately after smoking, your heart rate and blood pressure will both increase dramatically. For those who smoke or use other tobacco products daily, heart disease will become a major concern. Cigarettes are also the leading cause of a disease known as atherosclerosis. This disease takes place when a significant amount of plaque has built up in a patient’s arteries. Some of the early warning signs of atherosclerosis include heart palpitations, chest pain, and arrhythmia. Around 20 percent of all deaths from heart disease have been attributed cigarette smoking.
Anyone who is struggling with an addiction to tobacco products should understand that there is help out there. Treatment programs are more effective than ever and will address the root causes of one’s dependency instead of simply managing the side effects. When combined with major lifestyle changes, many daily smokers have been able to break free from this deadly habit and even reverse some of the damage they have done to their bodies.