by Himja Uphayday, RPT, BodyMend Wellness Clinic
Tobacco use has been associated with a variety of illnesses including heart disease, vascular disease, and several forms of cancer. Every tissue in the human body is affected by smoking. Research has also shown smokers’ bodies also heal slower. Are you recovering from a physical injury? Smoking can slow down your progress.
The toxic constituents of cigarette smoke – particularly nicotine, carbon monoxide, tar and hydrogen cyanide – suggest potential mechanisms by which smoking can cause serious negative effects on the body.
- Nicotine causes blood vessels to narrow in size, causing reduced blood flow. When this happens, the body does not receive adequate amounts of nutrients or oxygen to stay healthy or repair damaged tissue. Injured tissue requires ten times the nutrients and energy of normal tissue to heal. So smoking delays the body’s ability to heal itself by preventing the adequate energy and oxygen supply to the wounded area.
- Carbon monoxide diminishes oxygen transport and metabolism, resulting in less oxygen available for the tissues to heal themselves
- Tar, when in the lungs, coats the cilia causing them to stop working and eventually die, causing conditions like lung cancer, as the toxic particles in tobacco smoke are no longer trapped by the cilia but instead enter the alveoli directly. Thus, the alveoli cannot facilitate the process of ‘gas exchange’ which is the cause of rough breathing.
- Hydrogen cyanide inhibits the enzyme systems necessary for oxygen metabolism and oxygen transport at the cell level.
Here are some negative effects smoking causes to body tissues
- Smoking increases the risk of developing osteoporosis — a weakness of bone that causes fractures. Elderly smokers are 30% to 40% more likely to break their hips than their non-smoking counterparts. Smoking weakens bones in several ways, which also affects the healing of the fractures.
- Rotator cuff (shoulder) tears in smokers are nearly twice as large as those in nonsmokers, which is likely related to the quality of these tendons in smokers. Smokers are 1.5 times more likely to suffer overuse injuries, such as bursitis or tendonitis, than nonsmokers. Smokers are also more likely to suffer traumatic injuries, such as sprains or fractures. Smoking is also associated with a higher risk of low back pain and rheumatoid arthritis.
By avoiding or quitting smoking, you can reduce your risk for incurring many debilitating or potentially fatal conditions.
As an RPT working with clients working through the rehabilitation journey I see first-hand how quitting smoking helps the body regain some of its normal healthy functioning, while improving one’s overall health. Any attempt to quit smoking will make you stronger. It’s never too late to reap the benefits, some of which happen within the first few days. Help heal your body faster on the road of recovery from physical injury simply by avoiding cigarettes. Don’t know where to start? Talk to a knowledgeable health care provider for helpful suggestions and support.
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