REVIEW PAPER
Cigarette Smoking and Dyspnea Perception
 
 
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Section of Immunoallergology and Respiratory Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Florence, Firenze, Italy
Publish date: 2004-06-15
 
Tobacco Induced Diseases 2004;2(March):35
KEYWORDS
ABSTRACT
Cigarette smoking has been implicated as an important risk factor for the development of respiratory symptoms in adults. The relationship of dyspnea with cigarette smoking has been examined in smokers and ex-smokers and the beneficial effects of smoking cessation have been demonstrated. Recent studies reported that in subjects who smoke cigarettes the risk of developing respiratory symptoms is higher in a dose-dependent way. Environmental tobacco smoke heavily influences the incidence of respiratory symptoms in both adults and in children. Up to the present time, the mechanisms whereby cigarette smoking causes dyspnea perception remain to be defined. Abnormalities in sensory nerves might diminish the perception of bronchoconstriction in smokers. In this regard, it has been postulated that prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke may lead to chronic depletion of sensory nerve neurotransmitters. Eosinophil airway inflammation has been proposed as a determinant of breathlessness via mechanisms affecting either the mechanical pathways that control breathlessness or the afferent nerves involved in perception of dyspnea. An increased number of eosinophils in some smokers implies the possibility that smoking may trigger immunological or other reactions associated with eosinophilia. In conclusion, cigarette smoking is by far one of the greatest risk factors for most respiratory symptoms, including dyspnea. Smoking is associated with the development of symptoms in a dose-dependent way and eosinophilia and airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) increase the risk of developing dyspnea.
 
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