Cigarette smoking is one of the most morbid factors for lung abnormalities. It is a leading yet preventable cause of death. Statistically, India has approximately 1.35 million deaths due to tobacco use. Smoking is form of consuming tobacco. A smoker reduces his/her life by 10 years in comparison to non-smokers. According to Dr. Virendra Singh, how smoking affects the lungs and it is also an important risk factor for COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).

How smoking affects the lungs: Healthy Lungs Vs Smokers Lungs

Lungs are of pair of pink, spongy and elastic organ present in the thoracic cavity, main function of which is exchange of gases. Rich pink color is due to supply of capillaries. Smoker’s lungs appear black in color gradually due to deposition of chemical called as tar. Long time exposure to smoking degrades the quality of lungs. But why does smoking change the color of lungs and how smoking affects the lungs? Dr. Virendra says, “a single puff of cigarette has many chemicals. Now imagine a person who has developed a habit of smoking. Over the time, sticky substance called as tar, will accumulate in their lungs turning them black from pink”. Passive smoking also effects the health of many individuals. This form of smoking simply means, taking in other person’s tobacco smoke which increases risk of getting asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory problems.

Lungs and smoking:

Ill-effects of smoking are many, such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia and rhinitis. Most of them are chronic effects, which stay in human body for a longer period of time. But how are does smoking cause such breathing problems? Long-term smoking increases the production of mucus in the respiratory tract, in response to an increased cellular mass of mucus-producing cells. This excessive mucus blocks the airways and cause difficulty in breathing and makes you cough.

Effects of Cigarette smoking:

Smoking also induces inflammation in our lungs. This inflammation irritates our lungs, tear down our lung tissues and cause reduction in number of blood capillaries in our lungs. Reduction in number of capillaries also reduces supply of oxygen, hence lung abnormalities.

Smoking also lessens the movement of cilia which line our respiratory tract, appear like brush-comb, hair like structure. Reduced movement of cilia results in reduced defence mechanism against certain allergens which gain entry through the air passage and reach up to the lungs causing irritation, inflammation and infection.

Healthy vs Smoker’s Lungs:

  1. Physiology of lungs of a healthy person and a smoker can be well differentiated. Lungs of a healthy person pink due to ample supply of blood by rich capillaries and is normal is size. Whereas lungs of a smoker are inflammated and turn grey-black in color, blood supply is reduced due to inflammation, hence hyperinflated.
  2.  Healthy lungs allow smooth inhalation and exhalation of air but lungs of a smoker are inflammated, which cause narrowing of airways of respiratory tract thus producing wheezing sound on breathing. This sound indicates respiratory diseases such as asthma producing due to regular overuse of cigarettes.
  3. It is not uncommon in a smoke to cough regularly, also appearance of chronic cough is often seen in smokers. Cilia damage reduces cleaning of respiratory passage thereby allowing allergens and irritants to enter and cause damage.

Dr. Virendra Singh is a leading asthma specialist of our country and is an expert in respiratory abnormalities. He is pioneer in the field of respiratory diseases and is working in the field for about 40 years. He had been instrumental in establishing prestigious institutions Asthma Bhawan working in the field of asthma research & tobacco deaddiction. For Dr. Virendra Singh appointment – Contact Us – 0141-2235005