People have been smoking all over the world since ages. To discourage people from smoking, cigarette companies have been instructed to put warning signs on their products stating, “Smoking is hazardous for health”. But even after seeing this, people still smoke and fall sick.
Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals which are very harmful to the body. It is a myth that smoking filtered cigarettes or pipes is less harmful.
People who smoke regularly have blackened lips and tips of fingers due to chronic exposure to smoke. The tongue also looks bluish black due to chronic deficiency of oxygen in the blood.
Chronic bronchitis and lung cancer occur due to smoking over a time. These occur due to the direct effect of inhaling smoke and also due to the carcinogenic (cancer producing) chemicals present in cigarettes.
Smoking damages the balancing system of the body. This leads to difficulty in walking and carrying out small chores like dressing and tying shoe laces. It is one of the causes of sudden blindness which occurs due to damage to the nerve for vision and also other visual disturbances. Blood vessels of the body are damaged, causing gangrene in the limbs.
Peripheral nerves are also affected as a result of smoking, causing people to suffer from tingling, numbness and abnormal sensations in the limbs.
Cigarette smoke can cause genetic mutations. If a pregnant woman smokes, there is high risk of abortion, intrauterine death still births and premature births. A baby born may have birth defects.
People take up smoking due to different reasons. Young boys and girls start smoking due to peer pressure and these individuals suffer from health problems as they reach middle age. Some people start smoking to relieve stress. For poor people it provides a distraction from their daily hard routine. Now for whatever reason a person starts smoking, he/ she becomes addicted to it. After falling sick, they wish to quit but find it difficult.
When a person addicted to smoking, does not smoke he suffers from undue anxiety, sweating trembling of hands and difficulty in sleeping.
Therefore people should avoid smoking. If somebody starts to smoke, he should leave it at the earliest opportunity. Counseling is done to help a person give up smoking. He is sensitised about the associated health hazards. The individual should be encouraged and motivated to get rid of this addiction. In no way he should be criticised or condemned otherwise he may revert back to this bad habit again.
One should try to keep himself occupied both physically and mentally at the scheduled time of smoking. This helps in diverting one’s mind from the craving to smoke. In case of a strong desire to smoke, the person should munch something harmless like pea nuts or candy. This also helps in reducing the desire to smoke.
Regular meditation provides the necessary mental strength for quitting smoking. Breathing exercises of yoga further strengthen the mind. They also help to repair the lung tissues damaged due to smoking.
It is not impossible to quit smoking. Only thing needed is the will to do so. Otherwise, it is a sure way to spoil one’s health.
Dr Rachna Pande is a specialist in internal medicine at Ruhengeri Hospital