Browsing Posts tagged smoking health risks

I remember growing up watching television and thinking how cool the actors were who smoked. From Dean to Dean Martin, I thought the coolness they endeared was personified by the cigarette hanging out of their mouth. I can still picture the poster of James Dean leaning against the hot rod, smoking his cigarette.

A lot of that still goes on today, I imagine. The youth see prominent role models drinking alcohol or smoking a cigarette and think the same things I thought when I was their age. They begin to experiment with these items, casually at first, then with purpose second. I suppose they begin to believe that they too are now becoming like their heroes. They are living out what they see and enjoying it immensely.

The lifestyle of someone who is young, living on the edge and rebelling against what they know is not in their best interest. But hey, they’re young. They have their whole life ahead of them. So if you ask them about their lifestyle as a young adult, they’ll likely respond with an affirmation, “life is good”. Now lets speed up the clock a little bit and see what their lifestyle looks like in 40 years. Now they are in their sixties and have smoked for 30 or 40 years.

A new study examined the effects of middle aged smoking on long term risk of impaired activities of daily living (ADL). Lets first define ADL – these are things we do everyday, like bathing, brushing our teeth, urinating/having a bowel movement in the toilet, combing your hair, etc. Most of us think we’ll be doing that without any problems well into 80’s. Then we hope to have a cute, young nurse change our Depends. The study looked at 2,200 people in 1980, then again in 1999. They found that smokers had a much higher risk for impairment of ADLs. This means it was harder for them to do the simple things of just existing. The odds ratio (risk) was even higher for those who smoked greater than 20 cigarettes per day.

That’s the problem with smoking. When you’re young and invincible, smoking only creates silent changes in your body. But the repeated affect of smoking every day for years on end, transform these previously unknown physiological changes into a stark ubiquitous reality. Breathing becomes labored, chest pains are present, infections simply come in waves, and you get on a first name basis with your emergency room charge nurse. Sure, some people are physiologically wired to be less affected by smoking, but as a general rule of statistics and experience, smoking does not improve your lifestyle as you age.

Imagine for a moment that you are 62 years old. You wake up at 4:00 am to take a breathing treatment. You go back to bed where you can only sleep with 2-3 pillows stacked up, otherwise you can’t breathe. You turn up the oxygen concentrator located by your bed because you’re a little more short of breath than usual. Eventually you doze off, only to awaken 3 hours later feeling very anxious. You use your inhaler which you keep in your bedside drawer. You reach over to your walker and move toward the bathroom. Half way there, you sit back down to catch your breath. A few minutes later, you get back up and use the facilities. You return to your bed where you take another puff from your inhaler. You decide that you’ll just keep your pajamas on because you don’t feel like getting dressed today. Now you go into the kitchen to get your coffee. When you arrive ten minutes later, you pour a cup and start to feel a little bit better. You call your spouse over and ask them to get your nebulizer and meds from the kitchen counter.

It’s too difficult to go back to the bathroom to brush your teeth and shower, so you move over to the easy chair and sit down. You ask your spouse to move the oxygen tubing so it doesn’t get caught under the easy chair when you recline. Next, you read the newspaper, comb your hair and think about what you’ll do today. After talking it over, you call your grandkids up (if they’re in town) and ask them to come over for a visit. It is simply too hard for you to make it over to their place. Plus, they haven’t made the front door wheelchair accessible yet. But they did get an oxygen tank delivered to their house, so they’ll be ready for you when the ramp gets built.

Now, it’s time for another breathing treatment, except you need a new box of facial tissue, because you used up the last box in the morning. The decision is made to get a second tissue box to save time tomorrow, when you’ll be finished with this one. The rest of your day is spent reading, watching t.v., doing crossword puzzles or whatever other activity you’ve decided to “enjoy” during your retirement.

Lets skip to nighttime. Since you’ve still got your pajamas on, all you have to do is brush your teeth, take your pills and inhale on your last breathing treatment. Finally, you collapse in bed after a stressful and physically challenging day. While you lay their on your 3 pillows trying to get comfortable, you think about how you idolized James Dean. It’s then you wish you could go back to that 24 year old kid and tell him that smoking was not worth it.

We all know smoking affects everyone differently. Above we described a person with COPD and what their day typically looks like. Don’t have any misconceptions, that is a typical day for someone with moderate to severe COPD. If I told you that you could avoid this kind of risk by laying down your cigarettes, would you? You could brush your teeth, sleep better, have more freedoms, travel more, etc. How much is that worth to you?

To maintain good health you need to follow a proper diet, exercise regularly and life a good life style. A good lifestyle does not necessarily mean living the rich life. As far as your health is concerned, living the good life means maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This includes avoiding things that can be detrimental to your health, such as smoking. You can do all the other things that mandate a healthy lifestyle but if you smoke then you are defeating your purpose. There are numerous smoking health risks that you need to be aware of.

The concept that there are smoking health risks is certainly not a new idea. The surgeon general has been stamping one warning or another on the side of cigarette packs and cartons since the 1960’s. The most commonly known risk of smoking is lung cancer, but this is just the top of a long list of smoking health risks. There are many other long term conditions that can be developed as a result of smoking.

It has been estimated that nearly as many people die of cardiovascular conditions as a result of smoking as those that die of lung cancer. There is an almost equally as large group of people that die from emphysema due to this bad habit. These are just two of the many chronic conditions that can be associated with this.

You may have heard all of this before and wondered how it could possibly be true. You may wonder what affect this can actually have on your health. The important thing to know is that there are 4000 chemicals and at least 400 toxins that are contained in cigarettes.

It is the burning of the tobacco that causes these toxins to be emitted. The residues that are evident in a cigarette are concentrated toward the butt; this means that the part of the cigarette closest to you is the most dangerous part of it. These compounds include tar (which is known to cause cancer), nicotine (which can be connected with elevated levels of cholesterol in a smokers body), carbon monoxide (which is responsible for a reduction of oxygen in the body), and other components that are believed to cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.

This list of conditions is just part of the smoking health risks. There are other conditions that are believed to be the result of the toxins that enter the body as the result of smoking. Yeast infections are even believed to be associated with the affect these toxins have on the body.