Smoking (tobacco addiction)


1. What is smoking?

2. What are the symptoms?

3. Causes of smoking

4. Complications

5. What is the treatment?

6. How can smoking be prevented?

7. Which specialist treats it?

What is smoking?

Smoking is the acute or chronic intoxication produced by the addictive consumption of tobacco. It has a high prevalence and is one of the main causes of premature and avoidable death in developed countries. In Spain alone, smoking currently causes the premature death of more than 50,000 smokers.

The following diseases are common among smokers:

  • Respiratory, such as laryngitis or bronchitis.
  • Digestive, such as gastritis or heartburn (hyperchlorhydria).
  • Cardiovascular, such as arteriosclerosis.
  • Others, such as angina pectoris or lung cancer.

In fact, smoking is associated with more than 25 diseases. Tar and nitrosamines are the substances responsible for the most frequent occurrence of tumor pathology among smokers.

What are the symptoms?

Smoking presents all the characteristics of any dependence disorder generated by toxic substances, including the abstinence syndrome that occurs when one does without them, especially nicotine. As tobacco consumption progresses, the respiratory symptoms associated with smoke and the toxic substances linked to it intensify.

Smoking entails a whole series of health consequences that affect the organism in general. The symptoms will be more or less intense and will affect each smoker in a particular way depending on the amount of tobacco consumed, time and form. In general terms, the main symptoms that a smoker will manifest are:

  • Alterations of pulse and respiration.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Vomiting.
  • vertigo
  • fever
  • Coldness in the extremities.
  • In very severe cases, collapse and respiratory arrest.

Smoking is associated with more than 25 diseases.

Causes of smoking

The reasons that lead people to smoke tobacco are very varied. Some of the main reasons are:

  • Automatisms and influence of the social environment.
  • Physical and psychological addiction. Nicotine is the main component and responsible for tobacco addiction.
  • Situations that encourage consumption: after coffee, after drinking alcoholic beverages or as a pastime with friends.
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Tobacco is associated with numerous diseases and health problems, among them:

  • Problems in the circulatory system and heart.
  • Lung diseases.
  • Cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, esophagus, larynx, bladder, pancreas, kidney, cervix and some types of leukemia.
  • Diabetes.
  • Eye problems.
  • Infertility.
  • Complications during pregnancy.
  • Oral diseases.

In addition to the consequences for the smoker himself, tobacco is also harmful to those around him. Non-smokers are also at risk of developing lung cancer and heart disease.

What is the treatment?

At present there are numerous programs to help smokers stop smoking that include some complementary treatments, such as nicotine replacement therapy in patients with high physical dependence or antidepressants. The best way to treat tobacco addiction is to convince oneself that one is capable of quitting smoking.

The combination of psychological support and physical exercise is the best way to cope with the addiction and quit smoking. However, pharmacotherapy is also an option.

  • Nicotine substitutes: patches, gum, oral inhaler or lozenges.
  • Bupropion.
  • Lobeline and mecamylamine.
  • Varenicline.

How to prevent smoking?

Awareness and education about the health risks of tobacco consumption is one of the best forms of prevention. It is important to provide information on the consequences of smoking and to develop strategies to avoid or, in any case, limit its consumption. In this sense, family and school support is key to smoking prevention.

Which specialist treats it?

The pulmonologist will be in charge of the treatment of smoking, and may also be assisted by a psychologist.