We all know that smoking is bad for us and that we shouldn’t do it. But have you ever really thought about how that very unhealthy habit is affecting you and just what it is doing to your health?
It’s worth remembering that all drugs can have unwanted side effects and smoking is no different.
Here are a few ‘side effects’ of smoking.
- Cancer: It is widely recognized that smoking can cause lung cancer. But, did know that it also increases the risk of cancer of the lips, tongue, mouth, nose, esophagus, pharynx, larynx, pancreas, cervix, vulva, penis and anus. There are also associations between smoking and cancers of the stomach, kidney, liver and blood.
(That should be enough to make anyone stop smoking immediately! but there is more…)
- Diabetes: Smoking raises blood sugar levels, making it even harder to control the high blood sugar levels caused by diabetes. Some of the health complications caused by type 1, or insulin-dependent diabetes, are worsened by smoking.
- Blood Circulation: Because, when you smoke, your blood carries less oxygen and more plaque, you are more likely to suffer from dangerous blood clots and strokes. Back pain and blockages of the tiny blood vessels in the eyes, ears and other organs can also affect you. This can lead to poor circulation in your hands, feet and limbs, which can cause severe pain, especially when exercising, and can result in gangrene and amputation.
- Infections: Smoking will damage the lining of your throat and lungs and weaken your immune system, making it easier for bacteria and viruses to take hold in your body.
- Breathing Problems: In the long term, habitual smokers are more likely to have some degree of emphysema, a disease that causes progressive shortness of breath, as smoking cuts the amount of oxygen able to be carried from the air into your blood. As a smoker you will be more prone to asthma attacks because smoking narrows your airways.
- Aging: You will look prematurely aged, as wrinkles will appear around your eyes and mouth sooner and deeper than in a non-smoker. A woman who smokes tends to reach menopause one or two years earlier than a non-smoker or an ex-smoker because smoking reduces the amount of estrogen in the body, and, she is more likely to develop osteoporosis – the weakening of the bones that accompanies aging.
- Hearing: It’s likely that you will lose your hearing earlier than a non-smoker, and will be more susceptible to hearing loss due to ear infections and loud noise. This is due to decreased blood flow to the inner ear resulting from plaque build up on the blood vessel walls.
If you are tempted to smoke, or already do smoke, here are a few strategies for you next time you feel like lighting up. I do feel, though, that ‘the decision’ is the most important thing. If you don’t make ‘the decision’ to quit, you will never be able to do it.
On the other hand, if you do make ‘that decision’, you’ll do it even though it won’t be easy. Once you’ve made the decision, if you feel the urge to ‘light up’ :-
- Stop yourself, have a drink of water, breathe deeply and find something else to do;
- Do try to eat healthy food and get some extra exercise;
- Recognize that social pressures may impact on your choice to not smoke;
- Get help and support from family and friends;
- Quitting smoking is a challenge – it will help you believe in yourself;
- Beat this challenge and you’ll be ready to take on other challenges;
- Find new ways to deal with stress and difficult emotions;
- Be proud of saying “No thanks”.
I hope this will help you to ‘make that decision’ to give up that very unhealthy habit of smoking and to experience the benefits of quitting.
The ‘side effects’ of smoking are far worse than the withdrawal symptoms or ‘side effects’ of quitting.