The Effects of Smoking on the Respiratory System

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The respiratory system has a fairly simple way of cleaning up even though it is a very complex maze of air passages branching off from one another. In a normal, healthy respiratory system the mucus gathers any particles in the lungs that aren’t supposed to be there. The cilia then move back and forth moving the mucus towards the mouth for elimination. Smoking disrupts this entire cycle drastically but also very gradually. It adds more particles and things into the lungs making the amount of mucus larger and larger causing the cilia to work harder. However, even after the first drag from a cigarette the cilia begin to slow their movement gradually. Eventually they will become paralyzed and with even more time, will end up deteriorating completely. The smoker no longer has the cilia to remove the mucus so they are required to cough it up. Coughing is often worse in the morning due to mucus buildup throughout the night. It is a proven fact that smokers are more prone to get sick than nonsmokers. The reason for this is when the additional mucus builds up in the airway passages, it creates an ideal environment for pathogenic growth. All of this triggers a gradual, lethal chain reaction. Smokers’ cough turns into chronic bronchitis, caused by the deteriorated cilia. Mucus thickens and becomes greater in amount, thickening the lining of the bronchioles, resulting in difficulty breathing. The bronchioles steadily lose their elasticity which prevents them from absorbing the pressure on the alveoli, causing the alveoli to rupture; smoking-induced emphysema. This progression results in a worsening cough, wheezing, difficult breathing, and fatigue. As these structural changes are occurring, there are also cellular or molecular changes taking place in the lungs. The cells in the outer border of the bronchial lining begin to multiply very rapidly, taking the empty spots

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