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There are several pathophysiological effects that are associated with smoking and a majority of smokers are at risk of suffering from one of these effects or the other. Mobascher and Wintere (2008) point out that the pathophysiological effects of smoking are usually brought about by the many harmful chemicals that are contained in tobacco.
According to Mobascher and Wintere (2008) these chemicals have been shown to have adverse effects in the smoker’s body and even those people who are exposed to second hand smoke.
The chemicals normally adversely affect most of the body’s principal organs including the heart, lungs, kidneys and brain. Starting with the heart, smoking has been shown to result to damage of the arterial walls. This consequently compromises the arteries capacity to transfer blood to the heart effectively.
This implies that the arteries capacity to supply oxygen to the heart might be compromised with resulting to heart related medical complications such as heart attacks or strokes. In addition to the heart, smoking also might result to adverse effects on the lungs and indeed the entire respiratory system.
Mobascher and Wintere (2008) assert that smoking can result in reduction of the lung capacity consequently leading to breathing difficulties. Some of the specific ways through which smoking can result in reduced lung capacity include; reducing the size of airways and increasing the rate of accumulation of mucus material in the lungs. These effects have the impact of increasing the lungs vulnerability to infectious diseases including lung cancer (Mobascher & Wintere, 2008).
Dependence on Nicotine
In addition to the effects of smoking on the various body organs including the heart and lungs, smoking has also been shown to have adverse effects on the brain resulting to a compromise of the entire nervous system. According to Porth (2010), nicotine, one of the chemicals contained in tobacco, is responsible for the brief “feel good” feeling that is usually brought about by smoking.
This feeling, as pointed out by Porth (2010), is usually directly as a result of stimulation of a specific part of the brain known as the mesolimbic system. It is this stimulation that results to the fell- good effect of nicotine.
However, Porth (2010) notes that the stimulation and the resultant effect brought about by nicotine is short lived, and this aspect is what is behind the addictive effects of tobacco. This is because, in order to experience this effect the smoker needs to ‘light up’ many times. In doing so, their chances of suffering from one or more of the aforementioned health effects of smoking, is increased.
Moreover, Porth (2010) asserts that as one continues to engage in smoking, their tolerance levels to nicotine and other chemicals contained in tobacco keeps on increasing. Overtime, a person who used to smoke two cigarettes to experience the stimulating effects of nicotine might be required to smoke about five cigarettes, for the same dose of stimulation.
Despite the obvious health risks associated with smoking, there are proponents of this risky habit and this group of people has advanced various reasons for their stand. Porth (2010) points out that one of the arguments that is being touted as a benefit of smoking by the proponents of this risky habit touches on the suppressing effects of cigarettes.
According to Porth (2010), smoking has been shown to be effective in suppressing the effects of various mental disorders. Thus, many people argue that it can be effective in treating mental illnesses.
In addition to that, the suppression effects of smoking has also been applied in the treatment of various addictions such as alcohol and cocaine addictions whereby the addicts are allowed to use cigarettes to suppress some of the ‘cravings’ that they might have during the rehabilitation exercise.
However, this suppression effect, just like any other smoking effect, is temporary. Consequently, many addicts who depend on smoking to help them fight their addictions usually end up relapsing.
Mobascher, A. A., & Winterer, G. G. (2008). The molecular and cellular neurobiology of nicotine abuse in schizophrenia. Pharmacopsychiatry, 41(1), 1325-1330.
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Porth, C.M. (2010). Essentials of Pathophysiology: Concepts of Altered Health States. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.