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There are many substances that can injure our lungs. Our pulmonary system is under constant bombardment from potentially noxious substances in the environment and requires our constant vigilance to maintain healthy and strong lung health. This starts with educating ourselves on toxic exposures and how best to avoid them.

Being aware of the various factors that can negatively affect your lungs is critically important, as it allows one to take the necessary steps to potentially prevent these threats. One of the most common ways that individuals can harm their lungs is by smoking cigarettes. Although it is well known that smoking can lead to lung cancer, it is also important to be aware of the other effects. Smoking can cause chronic inflammation of the respiratory system, making it difficult to breathe, as well as damage the tissue that makes up one’s lungs. Although damage from cigarette smoking is mostly irreversible, quitting as soon as possible can still reduce an individual’s risk of developing advanced disease. 

Many individuals are exposed to significant levels of air pollutants. The effects of this air can cause various respiratory symptoms such as cough and excessive mucus production. Although minimal exposure can usually be well-tolerated, prolonged exposure most likely will lead to chronic symptoms and disease. While it is difficult to completely avoid poor air quality during one’s lifetime, it is possible to protect yourself by monitoring your surrounding air quality and reducing your exposures.

While cigarette smoking rates continue to decrease, the rise of electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, has been attributed to the increasing popularity of these products among teenagers and young adults. However, this alternative to smoking is not without risks. Although researchers are still not able to fully understand the effects of this type of product on long-term health, they know that it can lead to lung damage. Some of the harmful chemicals that can be found in e-liquids include diacetyl, acrolein, and formaldehyde.

Prolonged exposure to e-cigarettes can also lead to a condition known as bronchiolitis obliterans, which is characterized by coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing. This condition is caused by the oil-filled substance used in electronic cigarettes. Although e-cigarettes may be less harmful than smoking cigarettes, they are still not safe.

Educating oneself on these dangerous side effects can help avoid worsening lung health in the future.