Free Essay: Effects of Smoking on Respiratory Capacity
Respiratory capacity refers to the maximum amount or volume of air that an individual can exhale from their lungs after a maximum inhalation or inspiration. A normal human being takes between 12 and 15 breaths per minute. A single breath refers to a complete respiratory cycle. It comprises of a single inhalation or inspiration and a single expiration or exhalation.
The volume or amount of air that goes into the lungs and out during a breath is measured using a spirometer. Spirometry is the process by which the measurements are taken. Respiratory capacity, also called pulmonary capacity refers to the sum of the two volumes or even more taken during spirometry.
Taking respiratory volumes is very important because it helps in testing the functioning of the pulmonary since it can provide vital information regarding the physical condition of the respiratory systems or the lungs. Several factors affect the respiratory capacity of an individual including the size of the lungs, sex of a person, age and physical condition.
Smoking is among the major physical factors that affect the respiratory capacity of an individual. The effects of smoking on respiratory capacity are caused by a decreased function of the lung. Smoking damages the lungs making breathing difficult. Addicted smokers smoke more and this causes more damage to the lungs. This affects the respiratory capacity of a smoker negatively.
Smoke from tobacco has chemicals that reduce the ability of the lungs to remove dirt and germs. Eventually, these accumulate in the lungs affecting the respiratory capacity of an individual. The tiny hairs found in the lungs known as cilia are also damaged by smoking. Cilia have mucus lining which traps chemicals and dirt. These chemicals and dirt are expelled when an individual spit or cough.
When smoking damage the cilia, chemicals and dirt inhaled during smoking remain in the lungs and irritate them. Eventually, these cause infections as well as diseases that affect the respiratory capacity of a smoker. The lungs have tiny sacs called the alveoli. These absorb air or oxygen that one breathes in and exhale carbon dioxide. Smoking damages the alveoli.
This implies that the heart and the lungs have to work harder in order to absorb the oxygen needed by the body while releasing carbon dioxide. This also causes chronic lung illnesses which affect respiratory capacity.
Other factors that affect respiratory capacity include sex, age, physical conditioning and body build. The lungs are at their maximum capacity during early adulthood. However, this capacity decreases with age. A decrease in respiratory capacity has negative effects on the health of a person.
For instance, a decrease in respiratory capacity decreases endurance and stamina during physical activities. It also causes general fatigue, poor energy, and lack of concentration, general focus and memory. Decreased respiratory capacity is also associated with increased inflammation and inadequate oxygen reserves which increases the risk of heart attack and even stroke.
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