How Does Smoking Cause Bronchitis?

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Bronchitis and Smoking

  • Bronchitis and smoking go hand in hand. When you smoke, chemicals within the tobacco irritate the lining of your bronchial tubes. Typical symptoms include a cough, sore throat, mucous and chest discomfort. The more that you smoke, the worse this condition becomes. It can lead to chronic bronchitis, a disease linked almost exclusively to smokers.

Poisonous Substances

  • Because of the highly poisonous ingredients within smoking products, each puff of a cigarette irritates a smoker's body starting with their lips and mouth, and ending deep within the airways of their lungs. Just a few of the harmful substances within cigarettes are nicotine, carbon monoxide, tar, ambergris, benzene and hydrogen cyanide. All of these chemicals are put into cigarettes along with the tobacco leaves. When the cigarette is lit, the chemical properties are changed, making them even more deadly.

Smoking and the Lungs

  • The airway begins with the mouth and travels down your throat into the trachea, which is the beginning of your lungs. From there, the lungs begin, forming multiple passages (bronchi) that help them to expand and contract. With each breath that you take, your lungs fill with much-needed oxygen. Smoking irritates the lining of your trachea and bronchi. When these passages are irritated by the smoke, they swell and inflame. The swelling and inflammation is a part of the immune response to aid healing. Mucous is also produced, but in abundance. The mucous actually clogs the bronchi, making it more difficult to breathe. This is why smokers cough so much. Their lungs are working extra hard to expel mucous.

Further Irritation

  • The incessant coughing further irritates the lungs and throat. Many bronchitis sufferers complain of cough-related chest pain, muscle spasm and a sore throat. Because they continue to cough, there is no relief from the cycle. In spite of these symptoms, and knowing why they have the condition, most people continue to smoke.

Smoker's Cough

  • This cough is termed "smoker's cough." It is found almost exclusively in smokers, although people exposed to second-hand smoke often develop it as well. The cough is productive. This means that the cough produces mucous and phlegm harbored deep within the lungs. Smoker's mucous is typically brown, yellow or green. The brown color shows the type of residue left in the lungs when you smoke. Yellow and green mucous indicate infection. If you have a severe cough, there might be blood in the mucous, too.

Upper Respiratory Risk

  • Smokers are at greater risk of developing upper respiratory viruses and infections because of the mucous buildup. The mucous within your airways is thick and is able to trap foreign particles, microorganisms and bacteria quite effectively. It's rather like a science experiment in your lungs. Bacteria and microorganisms thrive in moist, warm environments, and a smoker's lungs are perfect for infections to proliferate. Smokers are also more susceptible to asthma, as the bronchitis makes it difficult to breathe.

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