A serious patient once asked me “So, Doc, what happens after putting down that lighter-What about your lungs”
Well…The lungs hurt because they’re working to clear out the excess mucus and tar that has accumulated from the smoking habit. Check this out…
The Function Of The Lungs:
Your lungs are part of the respiratory system, a group of organs and tissues that work together to help you breathe. The respiratory system’s main job is to move fresh air into your body while removing waste gases.
➡ Every cell in your body needs oxygen in order to live. The air we breathe contains oxygen and other gases.
➡ Once in the lungs, oxygen is moved into the bloodstream and carried through your body.
➡ At each cell in your body, oxygen is exchanged for a waste gas called carbon dioxide. Your bloodstream then carries this waste gas back to the lungs where it is removed from the bloodstream and then exhaled. Your lungs and the respiratory system automatically perform this vital process, called gas exchange.
In addition to gas exchange, your respiratory system performs other roles important to breathing. These include:
- Bringing air to the proper body temperature and moisturizing it to the right humidity level.
- Protecting your body from harmful substances. This is done by coughing, sneezing, filtering or swallowing them.
- Supporting your sense of smell.
- The most harmful substances contain tobacco products with Nicotine.
- SINUSES are hollow spaces in the bones of your head above and below your eyes that are connected to your nose by small openings. Sinuses help regulate the temperature and humidity of the inhaled air.
- The NOSE is the preferred entrance for outside air into the respiratory system. The hairs lining the nose’s wall are part of the air-cleaning system.
- Air also enters through the MOUTH, especially for those who have a mouth-breathing habit, whose nasal passages may be temporarily blocked by a cold, or during heavy exercise.
- The THROAT collects incoming air from your nose and mouth then passes it down to the windpipe (the trachea).
- The WINDPIPE (trachea) is the passage leading from your throat to your lungs.
- The windpipe divides into the two main BRONCHIAL TUBES, one for each lung, which divides again into each lobe of your lungs. These, in turn, split further into the bronchioles.
Lungs and Blood Vessels
- Your right lung is divided into three LOBES or sections. Each lobe is like a balloon filled with sponge-like tissue. Air moves in and out through one opening—a branch of the bronchial tube.
- Your left lung is divided into two lobes.
- The PLEURA are the two membranes that surround each lobe of the lungs and separate your lungs from your chest wall.
- Your bronchial tubes are lined with CILIA (like very small hairs) that move like waves. This motion carries MUCUS (sticky phlegm or liquid) upward and out into your throat, where it is either coughed up or swallowed.
➡ Mucus catches and holds much of the dust, germs, and other unwanted matter that has invaded your lungs. You get rid of this matter when you cough, sneeze, clear your throat or swallow.
But now, to answer the question: After Putting Down That Lighter-What About Your Lungs?
Nicotine is a highly addictive substance, once you quit smoking, your body goes through a severe withdrawal process to get used to working without it.
Some common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Fatigue or restlessness
- Tightness or pain in the chest
- Digestive distress
These symptoms increase or decrease depending on the severity of the previous smoking habit. However, there are ways to make nicotine withdrawal less painful.
➡ The easiest way to quit smoking is by using nicotine replacement therapy, most often in the form of lozenges, gum or patches.
➡ These alternative nicotine sources do not have tar or the other harmful substances found in cigarettes.
➡ As time passes, withdrawal symptoms lessen.
➡ The tightness or pain in the chest should begin to ease after a week or two.
I know you may be worried about your health, and what smoking is doing to it. And, naturally, you worry about how hard giving it up will be.
Nicotine is so highly addictive, that to quit smoking — especially without help — can be difficult. In fact, most people don’t succeed the first time they try to quit. It may take more than one try, but you can stop smoking.
Take that first step:
➡ Decide to stop smoking.
➡ Set a quit date.
Then take advantage of the many resources available to help you successfully quit smoking.
Keeping Lungs Healthy
Lung capacity declines as you age. Keep your lungs healthy by taking good care of yourself every day. Eat a balanced diet, exercise and reduce stress to breathe easier. Get more tips for healthy lungs.
Now that you’ve decided to stop smoking, it’s time to work on your quit-smoking action plan. You’ve heard the saying that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
So…Coming Up: Part 7- Your “Putting down that lighter-Let’s get this thing done”plan.