Cigarette smoke destroys the self-cleaning mechanisms of the respiratory organs. It causes the alveoli in the lungs to burst, free radicals can cause chronic inflammation. The direct consequences: constant coughing, the bronchial tubes produce too much mucus, the air quickly becomes stale. The risk of bronchitis, pneumonia and even tuberculosis increases. Asthma is often more severe in smokers than in non-smokers.
Smoking is even the number one risk factor for COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease): According to the German Cancer Research Center, one in four to five smokers will develop this irreversible disease at some point in time. In the worst case, the end result is lung cancer. According to the German Lung Foundation, 85 percent of patients with bronchial carcinoma are long-time smokers.
Fine dust particles are so small that when inhaled they do not get caught in the nose and throat, but go directly into the lungs. There, they can trigger inflammation, asthma, COPD and even cancer. The particulate matter in big city air comes mainly from diesel soot, heating systems and industrial plants. Researchers from Vancouver, Canada, for example, were able to show that the lung capacity of children who grow up near busy roads is reduced by around ten percent. At the same time, they have a 30 percent higher risk of developing asthma in the first four years of life than children from less exposed areas.
Certain occupational groups are also at particular health risk: for example, bakers, who breathe in flour dust in the bakery. Also burdened are miners, welders, farmers, and workers in plastics and food production.
Prere on the lungs
In professional musicians and glassblowers, the increased prere on the lungs can damage the respiratory tract in the long run. In the worst case, emphysema develops – a serious disease in which the lungs are permanently overinflated and exhalation is particularly difficult.
Allergy sufferers are often affected by pollen, house dust mites, insect venoms, food or animal hair. The nose runs, the sinuses clog, asthma attacks constrict the bronchial tubes.
In damp, too warm and badly ventilated rooms molds multiply easily. If inhaled, the spores can also trigger allergic asthma or flu-like symptoms. Respiratory infections caused by mold (mycoses), on the other hand, usually occur only in severely immunocompromised patients. They usually become infected in the hospital.
Toxic gases and fumes
Many gases, vapors and aerosols irritate lung tie and can make you sick. Nitrogen dioxide from car exhausts and chimneys, for example, can cause bronchitis or even pulmonary edema (fluid accumulation). Hairspray, in turn, is suspected of promoting pulmonary fibrosis – a severe inflammation of the alveoli and connective tie of the lungs. Ammonia or chlorine, on the other hand, usually irritate the throat to such an extent that one does not even inhale these gases so deeply.