A large portion of the teenage and adult smokers are of the opinion that they will endure no harmful effects of smoking until later on in life. Their thinking is based on the fact that cancers, heart diseases and strokes caused by smoking usually do not happen immediately after smoking a cigarette. Despite this being true, there are a number of diseases and medical conditions that can happen instantly after a person starts smoking. The brain, respiratory, immune, gastrointestinal, metabolic and cardiovascular systems start getting affected the minute you begin smoking and most of these effects are irreversible.
Short Term Effects of Smoking
1. Rapid Addiction
It is largely thought that addiction can only occur if a person smokes regularly for a considerable period of time. This however, is not the case. Addiction can develop pretty quickly in kids who start smoking cigarettes at a young age. You are going to start feeling the cravings associated with cigarette smoking if you continue it for more than a week. You will find quitting this habit a lot difficult and would begin having an urge to smoke more than one cigarette within days of starting.
2. Effects on the Brain
- Increase Stress
Most of the smokers cite relaxation and relieving stress as the main reason for smoking. This is another of the misconceptions that people have about smoking since it does not relieve stress. On the contrary, smoking only increases the stress levels of a person. The feeling of relaxation that is experienced by a smoker when smoking a cigarette is merely an illusion.
- Alter Brain Chemistry
Alteration of brain chemistry is among the short term effects of smoking. What happens is that the dopamine receptors of the brain responsible for giving a person a feeling of happiness begin to die out because of smoking. The decrease of these receptors alters the brain chemistry of the smoker and leaves him with a craving of cigarettes to feel happy and contented.
3. Respiratory System Effects
- Irritable Airway
Smoking is bound to make the airways of a person irritable. This condition which is also known as bronchospasm makes it difficult for the person to breathe in oxygen by constricting the airways present in the lungs. Smoker with this condition start to wheeze when trying to breathe, like a person suffering from asthma.
- Persistent Cough
Smoking causes paralysis of the hair present in lungs known as the cilia. These hairs are responsible for clearing the lungs of the harmful agents or substances that find their way in to the lungs during the breathing process. With these hair paralyzed, the smokers have to cough in order to remove the harmful products that he has been inhaling in the form of tobacco smoke. This is the reason why smokers start coughing continuously from the day they smoke their first cigarette.
4. Impairment on Cardiovascular System
- Constrict Blood Vessels
Smoking is believed to be responsible for decreasing the content of nitric oxide in the body which results in the constriction of blood vessels as one of the short term effects of smoking. This condition which is also known as vasoconstriction leaves the smoker vulnerable to stroke and heart attack especially if he suffers from sickle cell disease or is a patient of atherosclerosis.
- Increase Heart Rate
When a person starts smoking, his heart begins to pump blood faster than it is supposed to. This happens because the nicotine present in the cigarettes stimulates the heart to work harder than usual. This is why smokers generally have a high heart rate in comparison to non-smokers. With the heart being asked to work harder than it is capable of working, the chances of an early heart attack or stroke increase considerably.
- Increase Blood Pressure
Since the heart rate of a smoker is higher than non-smokers, it is only logical that their blood pressure is higher than normal as well. The blood pressure is mainly a measure of the pressure sustained by the blood vessels during the contraction and relaxation phases of the heart. The hearts of smokers have to work hard and pump blood faster which results in them having a higher blood pressure.
5. Effects on Digestive System
- Heartburn and Acid Reflux
Smokers are likely to develop GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder) almost instantly when they start smoking cigarettes. The symptoms of this disorder include heartburn and acid reflux which are caused because the smoker’s digestive system becomes unable to secrete a base strong enough to neutralize the acids forming in his stomach. With the acids not being neutralized they start irritating the stomach walls causing heartburn.
- Peptic Ulcer
A smoker is bound to develop peptic ulcers in his stomach, small intestine and esophagus because of the presence of extra acid which is not completely neutralized.
- Oral and Dental Problems
Smoking is bad for teeth as well. The bacteria that enter the mouth as part of the cigarette smoke are extremely harmful for the teeth and hasten the process of tooth decay and even causes yellowing of teeth as well.
- Bad Breath
People who begin smoking at a young age develop bad breath within the first few times they smoke a cigarette.
6. Immune System Effects
Sinusitis, the name given to the inflammation of the sinus, is another one of the short term effects of smoking. When a person starts smoking, the spaces in his skull known as sinus become inflamed because of the paralysis of the hair present in them. These sinus hairs which have the same function as that of the cilia present in the lungs are unable to remove mucus and other harmful substances from the sinus because cigarette smoke paralyses them and stops them from working properly.
Smoking can cause pneumonia which is an inflammation of the linings of the lungs. It results in the accumulation of fluid in the lungs, a persistent cough and difficulty breathing. The accumulation of fluid can foster bacterial growth, bringing down the smokers’ immunity.
7. Harm on Children and Infants
The smoke that usually accompanies cigarette smoking can have extremely adverse consequences for infants and children. This smoke carries bacteria and germs that can result in life threatening disease because second-hand smoke causes so much harm to kids of such a vulnerable age.
8. Other Effects
A smoker is also susceptible to a number of other effects which can start occurring as soon as he starts smoking. These effects are most likely to include a feeling of dizziness, a rapid increase in the skin temperature of fingers and toes, frequent hand tremors, a decrease in the flow and supply of blood and oxygen in the body and deposition of harmful substances like cholesterol and fats in the arteries and veins.