When a person smokes, he or she inhales nicotine which is an addictive drug. Nicotine works very quickly and exits the brain super quickly (within 10 seconds after intake), which is why it begins to induce cravings in most people within days or weeks of the first smoke.
The person craves for another smoke and its addictive nature gets the person entangled in its trap. People smoke cigarettes for the rush of energy, and the relaxed feeling they get after smoking. However, little do they realize that these reviving short-term effects may actually be inviting deleterious long-term effects. Let's take a look at them.
Long-term Effects of Nicotine in the Body
Nicotine causes a sudden surge of adrenaline in the body, which raises the heartbeat, blood pressure, and also relaxes a person's mind. However, let's take a look at its negative effects.
Effects on the Heart
Nicotine is seen to lead to heart attacks and strokes. This is because it releases a hormone―epinephrine, which increases the pace of one's heartbeat, elevates one's blood pressure, sugar, and also quickens one's breathing. Thus, even though after smoking you feel relaxed, within the unseen realms of your body, your heart is actually working harder to pump blood for oxygen intake. This causes additional strain on the heart. In the long run, the heart will crumble under the stress, and cause heart attacks or strokes. Nicotine is also a vasoconstrictor and causes the blood vessels to constrict, which also increases the risk of a heart disease.
Effects on Lungs
Smoking damages the thin, hair-like structures called cilia leading to the lungs, thereby preventing the lungs from discarding germs and dirt from it. Nicotine, when inhaled can cause repetitive coughing and wheezing, and can also lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis. Nicotine, when inhaled from cigarettes or other tobacco products conduces to lung cancer.
Effects on Immune System
As found out by the University of Louisville research team, nicotine makes people susceptible to infections and inflammations. The study conducted found that nicotine affects production of a certain type of white blood cells. This type of white blood cell, produced in the bone marrow actually defends the body against disease and infection. Research also revealed that nicotine-tainted cells failed to destroy bacteria as compared to healthy cells, thereby weakening the function of the immune system.
Effects on the Teeth
Nicotine also has adverse effects on the teeth and overall dental health. It not only causes discoloration and yellowing of the teeth, but also causes thinning of the gums in the long run. This in turn results in exposure of the root to several substances in the mouth, and also provides access to bacteria to penetrate to the roots and infect the gums. Debilitation of the tooth also occurs, thereby causing the teeth foundations to weaken. It also results in bad breath.
Effect on Pregnant Women
Pregnant women who smoke are at a greater risk of miscarriage, still birth, and premature birth. It also increases the risk of the baby being born with a cleft palate or cleft lip. Moreover, according to the American Cancer Society, "women above 35 year; smoking and using birth control pills are more vulnerable to heart attacks, strokes and blood clots in the legs". Smoking also increases the chances of a woman giving birth to low birth-weight babies.
Nicotine overdose can result in vomiting, convulsions, dizziness, muscle tremors, and even paralysis of the lungs; all occurring within minutes of overdose. Nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine, thereby making it extremely difficult to quit smoking. The withdrawal symptoms of smoking are not easy to cope with, however, quitting smoking is not possible if you consider its adverse effects on the body.
Disclaimer: This WellnessKeen article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.