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Smoking and its impact on your brain!

~ By Dr Ashok Hande, Neurosurgeon, Hiranandani Hospital Vashi- A l~

India ranks 4th in the world in deaths caused due to smoking, as per a 2015 study. Smoking has an extensive effect on the body, right from head to toe. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), smoking is the number 1 avoidable cause of death globally. There are over 4,700 harmful chemical compounds that are highly toxic, present in cigarettes and cigarette smoke. A frequent middle aged smoker is likely to die earlier as compared to someone of the same age group who has never smoked.

Smoking and the Brain:

brain--smoke

  • Nicotine that is present in cigarettes gets wedged onto brain receptors; it activates areas of the brain which are involved in producing feelings of pleasure and reward. When one is addicted to nicotine, it is hard to get over those urges; when the brain does not receive the nicotine it is used to receiving, it results in nicotine withdrawal. One tends to feel irritable, restless and anxious.
  • Excessive smoking causes the brain to weaken and shrink. It also results in adult cognitive decline and persists for many years together, even if one stops smoking.
  • Smokers are at a higher risk of developing Dementia as well as Alzheimer’s disease by at least 79%. Smokers often experience Insomnia and sleep Apnea, these could up the risk of Dementia in later years.
  • Smoking frequently also affects your Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Oxygen supply to the brain is reduced and carbon dioxide presence increases, affecting your Haemoglobin. The capability to analyse problems and solve matters at the workplace is often affected due to chronic smoking habits.
  • The common notion that smoking allows one to focus is quiet the myth; it is truly the opposite. Smoking reduces your ability to concentrate efficiently. Fatigue often kicks in due to the lack of oxygen supply to the brain.

Smoking and Brain Stroke:

  • Chronic smokers are at a high risk of a Brain Stroke. Nicotine presence in the blood makes the blood thicker. There is increase of plague deposition on the Arteries, caused due to smoking. This thus compromises the blood supply to the brain which causes a Brain Stroke.
  • The risk of dying from a stroke is double in smokers, as compared to non-smokers. However, if one stops smoking within five years, with sufficient nutritional intake, the risk can be reduced to the same of a lifetime non-smoker.
  • If you have survived a stroke, you can be left with permanent damage after having a stroke.

How to go about with quitting:

  • Nicotine replacement Therapy: When one quits smoking but still finds it hard to resist the urge, nicotine chewing gum, patches, inhalators and nasal sprays can be used to subdue the crisis at hand.
  • One usually tends to smoke as a relief from stress. Doctor prescribed medication, in this case can help as a beneficial effect in tackling nicotine or tobacco addiction.

Take home message: STOP SMOKING

S – Set up a plan and keep a positive attitude

T – Talk to your doctor

O – Be open;share your goals with your family, friends, and co-workers

P –Be persistent, don’t give up!

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