ZocdocAnswersDoes smoking cigarettes damage your immune system?

Question

Does smoking cigarettes damage your immune system?

Does smoking make you get sick more often. Like does it lower your immunity and damage your immune system? I am a very light smoker but I still feel like I get sick more than I used to.

Answer

Cigarette smoking damages the immune system as it relates specifically to the lungs. As the smoke enters the lungs, it damages two very important parts of the lung's defenses against the infection. The first part is your respiratory tract cilia. These cilia are small (microscopic) arms that extend out from the cells of your respiratory tract. Their job is to propel bacteria and other particles that you breath in towards the mouth and out of the lungs. In effect, they are like the vacuum cleaners of the lung sweeping away these dangerous bugs and dirt. Cigarette smoke paralyzes them allowing these unwanted contents to hang out in the lung longer and possible cause infection. The second part of the immune system that cigarette damages is the actual immune cells that reside in the lungs. These cells act as soldiers posted in the lung tissue to gobble up any bugs that do make it in. The tar in cigarette smoke gets inside these cells and prevents the from being able to do their job. Quitting smoking should be your number one priority. The best type of physician to help you with this is your primary care physician. He or she can hook you up with the best resources and medications needed to help you quit.

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