Are the chemicals in cigarette smoke enough to cause swollen glands or irritate the lymph nodes?
Most smokers, especially those who have consumed tobacco for a long time, might feel the glands on the side of the neck a bit harder and more pronounced. The lymph nodes activate the immune system once the latter acts on a threat.
It’s not surprising that smoking has something to do with the swelling of your lymph nodes. In this post, we’ll cover how smoking can cause swollen glands.
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How Smoking Causes Swollen Glands
As numerous research has already uncovered, smoking makes the body sick in various ways. While it’s not always mentioned everywhere, tobacco smoke also affects the lymphatic system and causes the following:
Increased Risk of Respiratory Infections
The chemicals in tobacco smoke greatly weaken the respiratory system enough for it to get overwhelmed by various infectious diseases quicker than non-smokers. Your glands are strained while fighting against the viruses once they start swelling.
Weakened Immune System
In addition to increased respiratory infections, smoking compromises the general capability of your body’s immune system. Tobacco smoke has been shown to reduce the body’s capacity to produce immune cells, weakening the body’s defences and can increase the risk of chronic gland swelling over time.
Higher Risk of Chronic Sinusitis
If you have a stuffy and runny nose almost all the time, your chronic sinusitis is most likely due to cigarette smoking.
Chronic sinusitis could be due to the irritation causing your nasal passages and sinus to swell and block the passage of air. Another possible cause is nasal polyps, which grow in size due to your body’s weak immune system.
Again, your symptoms may have appeared because your lymph nodes are strained due to the effects of consuming tobacco smoke.
If you have these symptoms and feel your glands are more swollen than usual, you could have chronic sinusitis. We strongly recommend stopping smoking and seeing a medical professional to find relief treatments and monitor your recovery.
Inside your lungs are tiny hair-like structures called cilia, which line the respiratory tract and clear mucus and contaminants from the airways.
Tobacco smoke can significantly damage your lung cilia, creating mucus buildup in the lungs. The buildup increases the risk of respiratory infections, causing further strain on your lymph nodes to boost the immune system.
The Typical Causes of Swollen Glands
With your immune system weakened due to smoking, your lymph nodes are highly likely to swell when you get infected by any of the following ailments:
Cold and Flu
When you have a cold or the flu, your lymph nodes start swelling to fight off the condition. However, smoking has been shown to reduce the immune system’s effectiveness, causing your lymph nodes to work even more to reduce the symptoms and rid your body of the flu.
Non-smokers who endure small cuts and bruises won’t experience their lymph nodes swelling immediately as their immune system is much stronger.
Unfortunately, for most smokers, a simple cut could cause their lymph nodes to go haywire and swell up to stop the germs from spreading.
Tobacco smoke has been shown to slow down your body’s healing process, making the lymph nodes work harder and stay swollen for longer.
Strep throat, caused by the Streptococcus bacteria, causes the throat, tonsils and lymph nodes around the neck to swell. The glands will feel sore and strained if you keep on smoking.
As mentioned, without a well-balanced immune system because of the chemicals in tobacco smoke, the glands have to work especially hard to rid the body of the Streptococcus bacteria.
Can You Get Swollen Glands After Quitting Smoking?
Yes, it is normal to get swollen glands after quitting smoking. After you smoke, your body has just begun getting rid of nicotine and the toxic chemicals found in cigarette smoke. Even if you’re not taking puffs from a stick, your immune system hasn’t fully recovered yet.
It’s most likely that after a month, your immune system will have significantly recovered, boosting your natural defences against flu and strep throat viruses.
After you quit smoking for a year, you can see significant improvements in your physical health and overall immune system performance.
Another Big Reason to Start Your Quit Journey
By stopping smoking today, you can help your lymph nodes fight off infections effectively and restore your body to good health over time. In as early as 6 days, you’ll notice the difference once you stop smoking.
Here are the steps you can follow to start your quit journey.
Go Through First-Line Solutions First
Some motivated smokers can handle cold turkey just fine and see success within a few tries, but oftentimes, smokers have strong withdrawals that can draw them back to lighting a stick.
That’s where nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products come in. These are readily available and stocked at your local pharmacy.
NRT products are the most trusted quitting option available for motivated smokers. They might not imitate cigarettes, but they contain a small dose of nicotine that may be enough to alleviate your withdrawals. These come in the form of patches and gums for easy and convenient nicotine delivery.
While NRTs can be effective, they don’t work for everyone. If these haven’t done the trick for you, you may now be eligible for a nicotine prescription to use nicotine vaping products (NVPs).
Chat to a GP
As mentioned, NRT products have worked for many successful ex-smokers. But, you might have ingrained behaviours and triggers that only something that mimics a cigarette can successfully address, such as the hand-to-mouth motion, and needing something to use while having a drink with friends.
That is where NVPs become very handy in helping you fight the urge to consume tobacco.
You need a nicotine prescription before you can purchase NVPs, so you’ll need to consult with a GP to help you on your smoking cessation journey.
And, if your GP deems it necessary, they can write you a nicotine prescription for NVPs.
You can chat to your usual GP more about this.
Visit Your Local Pharmacy
Once you have your nicotine prescription, you can pop down to your local pharmacy. Over 2,200 pharmacies across Australia hold these products in-store, but any pharmacy can order these in for you if they don’t currently stock them.
Both your pharmacist and GP can advise you on how best to use the product, such as the initial setup, and the number of puffs to take when you feel withdrawals.
Your lymphatic system is an essential part of any person’s longevity. But if you keep on smoking, your lymph nodes will have to strain and even lose its capacity to defend you against viruses and sicknesses.
By stopping smoking, you help your lymph nodes keep your body in good shape and ready for anything.
If you’re looking to stop smoking for good and need professional help, we have the resources and information to help you.
Smokefree Clinic gives you access to many medically reviewed and trustworthy resources that can inform and aid you in your path to wellness, so have a look around!
If you’re ready to get started, Smokefree can connect you to Australian healthcare professionals who excel in helping patients quit smoking for good.