Here’s the Reality of How Smoking Affects Your Lungs... and It’s Not Pretty

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Playing Here's Why You Shouldn't Take Your Lung Health For Granted
Here's Why You Shouldn't Take Your Lung Health For Granted Aired July 21, 2017

The average person takes over 20,000 breaths a day. That’s pretty amazing! Given how much we rely upon our lungs, we’re teaming up with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Dr. Ian Smith to talk about something most of us take for granted... our lung health. We’ll cover everything we need to know from better breathing to quitting smoking.

We all know we need our lungs to inhale oxygen, but what do they actually do with that oxygen? Dr. Ian explains, “Every cell in your body needs oxygen in order to live. Once in the lungs, oxygen is moved into the bloodstream and carried through your body.”

Dr. Ian demonstrates what healthy and unhealthy lungs look like. Check out the video below to see how different they look (you will never go near a cigarette again if you react the way we did):

Dr. Ian says that when your lungs aren’t healthy, it can lead to problems like respiratory illnesses, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and even heart disease. If you’re wondering how to tell if your own lungs are unhealthy, Dr. Ian says you should look out for these symptoms:

Shortness of breath during simple activities.
Dizziness with a change in activity.
A persistent cough and/or wheezing or coughing while exercising.
Pain in the airway.

A lot of lung problems can be attributed to smoking cigarettes. Dr. Ian explains that there are more than 7,000 chemicals in cigarettes including nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar. This can cause a variety of problems -- from an annoying cough to serious smoking-related illnesses like lung cancer. But the effects of smoking aren’t limited to your lungs -- smoking harms almost every organ in the body, increases your chances of stroke and makes you age prematurely, Dr. Ian says.

And if that doesn’t shock you, this next statistic should -- the CDC reports that a whopping 16 million people are suffering today from a smoking-related illness.

But it’s never too late for you or a loved one to quit. Watch the video below for Beatrice’s story. She’s a participant in the CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers™ campaign. She quit after her son begged her to, and has never looked back:

It’s not easy to quit (or convince a loved one to quit!) but the CDC has a ton of resources for you to start a conversation like the one Beatrice and her son had, and to get help quitting. Head over to their website at cdc.gov/tips for more information or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for free help.


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