Monday, December 8, 2008

The Effects of Second-Hand Smoke

If you think you are safe from contracting smoking-related ailments because you are a non-smoker, think again. Environmental tobacco smoke or second-hand smoke poses health risks to those who are unfortunate enough to inhale it from smokers who often lead with their chins. Composed of smoke emitted from the lit end of a cigarette/cigar/pipe and that exhaled by the smokers themselves, non-smokers who are within their range are given no choice but to breathe it in since it is airborne. This repulsive smoke remains in the atmosphere for hours long after a cigarette has been put out and is likely to either generate or aggravate its perilous effects. Among these are asthma, respiratory infections, and cancer.

What makes second-smoke dangerous?

Undoubtedly, with a content of 400 chemicals, 50 of which induces cancer, second-hand smoke is toxic. In fact, inhaling it through the smoke given out by smokers is more potent than if you were the one smoking it directly. This is attributed to the fact that you are likely to inhale twice as more nicotine and five times more carbon monoxide than the smoker himself or herself.

Prolonged and frequent exposure to second-hand smoke results to an increased susceptibility to contracting lung cancer, nasal sinus cancer, heart disease, stroke, and breathing problems such as coughing, wheezing, bronchitis, pneumonia, and asthma. People who are always exposed to housemates who are smokers have a 30% higher chance of being struck with lung cancer an/or heart disease. In fact, it only takes anywhere between 8-20 minutes for physical manifestations to surface if a person inhales second-hand smoke.

During this time, he or she is likely to experience a faster heart rate, a decrease in the amount of oxygen supplied to the brain, and narrowed blood vessels; resulting to a rise in blood pressure, thus, prompting the heart to pump harder. As for pregnant women, it ups the risk of having miscarriages and delivering babies with low birth weight.

What dangers does second-hand smoke pose to children and infants?

Studies have shown that in one out of five homes, children and infants are exposed to secondhand-smoke on a daily basis. And because their lungs are still in the developing stages, exposure to this harmful fume weighs more heavily on them than it does to adults. Infants, in particular, are the most vulnerable since their breathing has greater speed than that of adults. Aside from this, they have an increased chance of dying due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome(SIDS), more commonly known as crib death. Research has revealed that infant death due to second-hand smoke is three times greater than death related to child abuse or homicide.

Second-hand smoke is perilous particularly to children stricken with asthma. Even a slight exposure to it would be sufficient enough to set off an asthma attack. And as for those who are free of it, they would eventually contract it if they frequently breathe in second-hand smoke. Stop smoking

Resource Box: Maricel Modesto is a writer and editor who writes for various health and lifestyle magazines.

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