What happens to the lungs when smoked: the impact of nicotine on the lungs

Structural and physiological changes of the lungs when Smoking

When Smoking a person inhales tobacco smoke, nicotine, tar and other heavy chemical compounds. They are absorbed into the bronchi and lungs and nourish the respiratory system. Nicotine is one of the main factors in the development of many chronic diseases of the pulmonary system – obstruction, inflammation, cancer, emphysema. What happens to the lungs when Smoking, what are the mechanisms of the negative impact of tobacco and the development of pathologies?

The chemicals in the tobacco

The main ingredient of cigarettes that have a slightly narcotic effect, is nicotine. Is an aromatic alkaloid with an unpleasant and pungent odor. It has a toxic effect on lungs, heart, nervous system. The substance plays a key role in the development of cancer of the respiratory system.

When inhaled, nicotine stimulates the release of adrenaline. This is manifested by the increased pressure, shortness of breath. The substance is very toxic. The lethal dose for humans is 0.5 to 1 mg per 1 kg of body weight.

  • Phenol, or carbolic acid, a content of the solid substances in cigarette the greatest. It is very poisonous, belongs to the second class of danger. Inhalation of vapor effect on lungs is manifested by chemical burns of the mucosa of the bronchi and lungs. At high concentrations, phenol is rapidly absorbed into the blood, enters the brain and leads to paralysis of the respiratory center. The result is suffocation, breathing stops.
  • Cresols are acid, which has a strong irritant effect on mucous membranes of the upper and lower respiratory tract. When inhaled, they cause coughing.
  • Carbon dioxide, or carbon dioxide – a colorless gaseous substance without any smell. Regular Smoking causes shortness of breath and asthma attacks.
  • Hydrogen cyanide or hydrocyanic acid changes the rhythm of breathing, the depth and frequency of breaths-exhalations, promotes dyspnea. If a strong poisoning tobacco smoke enters the brain, stimulates the cells of the respiratory center, which leads to inhibition of the functions of the lungs and they stop.
  • Isoprene is a hydrocarbon in the form of a volatile colorless liquid with a strong odor. The disintegration of the material takes place in the lungs. An irritant on the mucosa of the respiratory tract.
  • Acetaldehyde is the basis of tobacco smoke. With the assistance of nicotine heightens physical dependence. Has a strong carcinogenic effect.
  • Acrolein is a volatile liquid with a peculiar pungent odor. Toxic, irritating to mucous membranes of the larynx, bronchi and lungs. Mutagenic properties.
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Also in the tobacco contain heavy metals and other chemical elements – arsenic, lead, cadmium, chromium, copper, zinc, aluminum.

Morphological changes in the lungs

The sustained and systematic Smoking in lung tissue undergoing structural changes that are often irreversible, appear chronic inflammatory foci.

In 90% of cases in smokers diagnosed chronic bronchitis. Develop progressive structural changes of the parenchyma. Mucous epithelium swells, the very slight decrease in size and subside. Then, the normal structure of the organ is replaced by connective tissue.

Also develop in other pathological conditions. Light smoker is spasm, bronchial lumen narrowing, the alveoli collapse.

On the background of constant Smoking to develop inflammatory reaction in the parenchyma of recurrent nature. There is atrophy of the ciliated epithelium, its reduction and decreased functionality. Smoking lungs lose their elasticity and become deformed. As a rule, the inflammation covers the lobe or segment of the body, in rare cases, the lung becomes inflamed as a whole.

In severe cases, morphological changes occur in the alveoli (structural unit of the lung). They expand, forming a hole or cavity filled with air (bubbles).

Under the influence of tobacco smoke affects vascular mesh of the lungs. The walls of the arterioles thicken, and become thick. This occurs by proliferation of vascular endothelium and smooth muscle of blood vessels. Elasticity is lost, walls become rough.

Functional changes in the pulmonary system

One of the first symptoms in smokers, indicating the defeat of the respiratory – shortness of breath. At first, it appears at moderate physical exertion. Then its intensity gradually increases. The person feels shortness of breath with moderate walking, climbing stairs, it is accompanied by severe physical weakness.

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Smokers cough always present. It is associated with irritant poisons, inflammatory processes, atrophy of the epithelium, which should contain foreign antigens.

Novice smokers cough is painless and happens only in the morning. Prolonged exposure of smoke, the coughing becomes paroxysmal and painful nature, is manifested in any time of the day and is accompanied by phlegm. It is usually the mucosa, and in the acute phase of the disease with pus. Smokers with experience often have asthma, which are aggravated in cold and wet weather.

Because the lungs when Smoking are compressed, their function is disturbed ventilation, gas exchange is carried out in full. This leads to the development of hypoxia (oxygen starvation) of organs and systems. The person feels a sense of lack of air.

Hypoxia leads to severe consequences – brain damage and nervous system with the development of seizures, mental dysfunction, coma. Hypoxia increases the risk of asphyxiation (choking) during sleep.

Due to the constant irritation of the mucosa loses its protective function, reduced local immunity, people are more likely to suffer from respiratory infections. The inflammatory process becomes permanent with frequent exacerbations.

With the defeat of the extensive area of the lung in humans slightly increased body temperature at night, to 37.5°, there is a fever, increased sputum, pain in the chest.

When hit poison into the lungs raises the blood circulation. Develops pulmonary hypertension, increased pressure in the pulmonary artery. With the destruction of the arteriolar capillary bed is empty, and in the blood vessels to develop atherosclerosis. It strengthens the heart and hypertrophied the myocardium.

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Smokers are developing these chronic diseases:

  • chronic bronchitis and pneumonia;
  • bronchial asthma;
  • tuberculosis;
  • the pulmonary obstruction (COPD);
  • emphysema;
  • pulmonary fibrosis;
  • lung cancer.

Passive Smoking (inhalation of air with tobacco smoke) also causes pathological processes in the lungs. People are developing respiratory diseases, cancer, asthma. The degree of damage of the respiratory system during passive Smoking is not reduced, this has been proven in research by who and the international Committee for the study of cancer.

Disease development is slow, the apparent irreversible processes are diagnosed in 10-15 years. Chronic smokers are in need of supportive therapy and constant medication. Smoking reduces the quality of life and inevitably leads to the status of disability and death.

To stop this process, you need to quit promptly get an early diagnosis when the first symptoms – shortness of breath, cough, fatigue.

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