Important facts about black lungs from smoking

Everyone has heard the warnings about black lungs from smoking, but not everyone will heed the warnings.  Smoking actually causes 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80 percent of all lung cancer deaths in women.  The reason smoking can be so deadly is all the chemicals that the cigarettes pump through your body on a daily basis.  Smokers inhale more than 4,000 chemicals with every puff.  Some of those chemicals are tars, which contribute heavily to black lungs from smoking.  

Smoking also causes a lot of other changes in your breathing in addition to black lungs from smoking.  For example, smokers tend to have a lot more mucus in their lungs.  This can cause a condition many people recognize as smoker’s cough, which is a phlegm-based cough that never seems to go away.  All that extra mucus can also cause a lot more infections than you would normally get. 

The longer you smoke, the more irritated your airways become.  Air has a more difficult time getting through your lungs and to the rest of your body, which further contributes to black lungs from smoking.  People who begin smoking when they are young will find that their lungs age much faster.  In some cases the lungs of an 80 year non-smoker can look much like the lungs of a 40-year-old smoker.  Of course this example depends on exactly how long the smoking went on. 

Longer term changes like emphysema can also result from smoking.  Symptoms of emphysema include wheezing, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath.  Emphysema destroys lung tissue over time, and there is no cure for this disease.  It also decreases your lung capacity and causes you to have labored breathing all of the time. 

But emphysema is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to getting black lungs from smoking.  Lung cancer is often the end result of long term smoking, and the only way to avoid it is to quit smoking as soon as possible. 

Symptoms of lung cancer include:

a cough that doesn’t go away
coughing up blood
shortness of breath
chest pain
bone pain
unexplained weight loss

There are many programs that can help you quit smoking.  Not every plan works for everyone, so you may have to try several different programs before you find the one that does work for you.  Many people have found good results with nicotine patches, while others discover more basic ways to quit.  For smokers who have an especially difficult time quitting, a prescription for the drug Chantix is always an option.  Chantix blocks pathways in the brain and prevents smokers from getting the benefits from nicotine.  After a month on Chantix, smokers will no longer be able to satisfy their nicotine cravings by smoking.  This allows them to quit safely and for the long term, although it is necessary to keep taking the drug for months after you’ve quit smoking.  If you don’t, it’s possible you may begin to smoke once again.