How Smoking Affects Lung Capacity

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Smoking can damage your lungs and make breathing difficult. The longer you smoke and the more you smoke, the more damage you do. Quitting can be hard, but there is help available. Not quitting can cause chronic symptoms and life-threatening conditions.

Chemicals

Smoking reduces your lungs' ability to remove germs, dirt and the chemicals you expose yourself to when you smoke. As the ability to clean the lungs is reduced, the chemicals that can cause cancer become trapped.

Decreased Resistance to Infection

Smoking damages tiny hairs in the lungs called cilia. These hairs are lined with mucus, which works to trap dirt and chemicals, and when you cough or spit up the mucus, the dirt is expelled from the body. When the cilia become damaged, the chemicals you inhale while smoking stay in and irritate your lungs and can cause infections and lung disease.

Air Sacs

Your lungs contain tiny sacs called alveoli. The alveoli absorb the oxygen you breathe in and then get rid of the carbon dioxide as you exhale. When the alveoli become damaged, your lungs and heart must work harder to take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide, which leads to chronic lung disease.

Signs of Lung Damage

You may feel out of breath even during simple activities. You may have a chronic cough with mucus and chest infections.

Reversing the Damage

According to the Lung Association of Canada, within just a couple of days of quitting the levels of carbon dioxide start to lower, your sense of smell and taste return and your risk of heart attack drops. With time, damage to the lungs can start to improve and you can reduce your risk of chronic lung disease.

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