The dangers of smoking have been well documented.
Heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, respiratory diseases: these are just a few of the many health problems that smoking causes.
You are probably aware of these risks but maybe less so when it comes to the throat. And yet smoking is as equally damaging to the throat as any other part of the body.
What does smoking do to your throat?
Cigarettes, cigars, pipes and even chewing tobacco cause a range of problems which include:
- Dry throat
- Swollen, inflamed throat
The heat generated by cigarettes, cigars and pipes also dries out the throat and causes it to become sore and inflamed. This makes it difficult to swallow and often causes coughing as well.
Smokers cough is a common feature of smoking and is caused by chemicals within cigarette smoke. Plus the smoke itself irritates the sensitive tissues of the throat as well as increasing the amount of mucus present.
But one of the biggest problems with smoking is cancer.
Smoking and throat cancer
Tobacco smoke contains numerous chemicals some of which are known carcinogens that irritate the throat. They can affect the DNA present in cells within the tissues of the throat which can lead to a mutation.
This mutation can result in cancer of the mouth or throat.
What happens is that this mutation disrupts the ability of the genes which control cell growth and division. Cells normally grow and divide in order to repair themselves but if this is damaged in some way then these cells start to grow and divide in an abnormal manner.
Too many cells are produced which together, form a tumour. This tumour can spread to other areas of the body.
Smoking and the voice
Smoking also affects your voice. This is a particular problem if you use your voice as a singer or a speaker, e.g. conference speaker. It affects the tissues of the larynx, causing them to become dry, swollen and inflamed. It can also cause these tissues to thicken which will affect the pitch and tone of your voice.
In some cases it can lead to your losing your voice (laryngitis).
Smoking also increases your risk of developing lumps or polyps on your throat. These polyps develop on your vocal cords and change the quality of your voice.
You may find that your voice sounds hoarse or deeper than usual.
Another problem is that of smoky environments. If you are a singer who performs in clubs or similar environments then you will find that your voice will be affected by this.
If many of your engagements are in these types of places then whenever you have a break, go outside for a breath of fresh air and to clear your throat.
This and other similar issues are discussed in more detail in our professional speakers and singers section.
Passive smoking and your throat
We are aware of the risks of smoking but passive smoking is equally as risky. Also known as ‘second hand smoke’, there are dangers from breathing is someone else’s smoke.
If you inhale another person’s smoke then you too are at risk of chemicals and toxins within that smoke which also increases your risk of throat cancer.
In essence: smoking damages your throat so if you are a smoker then think about giving up. If you are considering this then visit our stopping smoking guide.
Sore Throat Guide
- Sore Throat
- Throat anatomy
- Vocal cords
- How the throat works
- Causes of a sore throat
- Throat related problems
- Throat ulcers
- Globus pharyngeus
- Acid reflux
- Lumps in the throat
- Reinke’s oedema
- Enlarged adenoids
- Congenital throat problems
- Wegener’s granulomatosis
- Pharyngeal pouch
- Bad breath
- Throat infections
- Strep throat
- Bacterial throat infections
- Viral throat infections
- Glandular fever
- Throat polyps
- Throat cancers
- Cancer of the larynx
- Cancer of the oesophagus
- Cancer of the pharynx
- Cancer of the thyroid gland
- Cancer of the trachea
- Cancer of the mouth
- Treatment for sore throat
- Home based treatment
- Over the counter treatment
- Prescription medicine
- Throat surgery
- Recovery after tonsillectomy
- Looking after your throat
- Lifestyle factors
- Excess weight
- Voice misuse
- Professional speakers and singers
- Preventing a sore throat
- Sore throat in children
- Sore throat FAQs