The 22 Deadly Symptoms No Smoker Should NEVER Ignore

SMOKING is still a habit in which one in seven adults in the UK participate.

It’s no secret that cigarettes kill – they harm your health in dozens of ways.


One in seven people in the UK smoke and are at risk of contracting deadly diseasesCredit: Alamy

Smoking increases the risk of more than 50 serious health problems.

This is why the habit is one of the leading causes of death in the UK, killing some 78,000 people every year.

While you probably already know that it’s possible to quit smoking — and there are resources to help you do so — it’s worth being aware of the symptoms of deadly smoking-related diseases.

These include fatal lung cancer, stroke, heart disease and heart attack.

The red flags of these conditions are:

  1. A chronic cough
  2. coughing up blood
  3. Persistent shortness of breath
  4. Recurrent lung infections
  5. Tired
  6. Loss of appetite/weight loss
  7. feeling of weakness
  8. Numbness or weakness in the legs/arms
  9. Change skin color
  10. Dyserection
  11. Swollen limbs

An emergency (call 999):

  1. A drooping face
  2. An inability to raise both arms in the air and hold them there
  3. Scrambled or slurred speech
  4. Chest pain – a feeling of pressure, heaviness, tightness or compression on the chest
  5. Sudden pain in the upper body, spreading from the chest
  6. Feeling dizzy or dizzy
  7. Sweat
  8. Shortness of breath
  9. feel sick or be ill
  10. An overwhelming feeling of anxiety (similar to a panic attack)
  11. Cough or wheeze

Dr Philippa Kaye told The Sun: “New persistent cough for more than three weeks, or worsening of a previous cough; coughing up blood or rusty colour, hoarse voice for more than three weeks, shortness of breath, chest pain – these are all lung cancer symptoms.

“But smoking also increases your risk of other cancers and other conditions such as cardiovascular disease – so symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath.”

Symptoms of cancer in general include lumpiness, weight loss, fatigue, pain, bleeding after menopause/between periods/after sex, bleeding buttocks, changes in urination or habits bowels and night sweats.

Dr Philippa said: “In a nutshell, don’t think that smoking just affects the lungs, it can affect the whole body.”

Lung cancer

Smoking causes approximately 7 out of 10 cases of lung cancer.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the UK, accounting for a fifth.

The disease does not tend to cause symptoms until it is advanced.

This makes spotting the signs even more important in order to get treatment as soon as possible.

Warning :

  1. A chronic cough
  2. coughing up blood
  3. Persistent shortness of breath
  4. Recurrent lung infections
  5. Tired
  6. Loss of appetite/weight loss

Many people who light up have what is called “smoker’s cough.”

This can mask lung cancer, as a chronic cough is the most common symptom.

If you have a cough that hasn’t gone away after two or three weeks, see a doctor.

The coughed up blood will be bright red and may bubble because it is mixed with mucus and air from the airways.

If you’re having trouble walking up those stairs or putting your groceries away, you might have persistent shortness of breath caused by lung cancer.

Repeated lung infections are a key sign of lung cancer. This is because a tumor can block the airways.

Less common symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • Changes in the appearance of your fingers, such as becoming more curved or their tips becoming larger (this is called clubbing)
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) or pain when swallowing
  • Wheezing
  • A hoarse voice
  • Swelling of the face or neck
  • Persistent chest or shoulder pain


Smoking doubles the risk of death from stroke – when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, usually due to a clot.

A stroke is a medical emergency – you should not wait until you can see your GP, but call an ambulance.

The sooner someone with a stroke is seen by a doctor, the better chance they have of surviving and avoiding any life-changing disability.

The main symptoms of a stroke can be remembered with the word FAST:

  1. Fas – the face may have drooped to one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eyes may have drooped.
  2. Arms – the person suspected of having a stroke may not be able to raise both arms and hold them in place due to weakness or numbness in 1 arm.
  3. SPeech – their speech may be slurred or scrambled, or the person may not be able to speak at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have difficulty understanding what you say to them.
  4. Jime – now is the time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.

Heart attack

Smoking causes a number of changes in the body that increase the risk of serious heart and blood vessel disease.

It reduces blood flow to the heart, increases the risk of blood clots, damages blood vessels, and makes artery walls sticky, which can eventually lead to a heart attack.

Research has suggested that smoking is a greater risk factor for heart attack in women than in men.

There are three early indicators that you might be having a heart attack.

These are sweating, malaise (which has been compared to anxiety), and chest tightness.

Symptoms of a heart attack can include:

  1. Chest pain – a feeling of pressure, heaviness, tightness or compression on the chest
  2. Pain in the upper body – usually it may feel like the pain is spreading from the chest to the arms
  3. Feeling dizzy or dizzy
  4. Sweat
  5. Shortness of breath
  6. feel sick or be ill
  7. An overwhelming feeling of anxiety (similar to a panic attack)
  8. Cough or wheeze

While the most common symptom of a heart attack in both men and women is chest pain, women are more likely to experience other symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back pain or in the jaw.

Cardiovascular illnesses

It is well documented that harmful substances in tobacco can damage and narrow blood vessels.

This can lead to atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease and peripheral arterial disease – all examples of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

The longer a person has smoked, the more cigarettes they smoke per day, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, one of the leading causes of death and disability in the UK.

Research shows that a large proportion of smokers could die of heart disease they have no idea about.

Symptoms may include:

  1. chest pain
  2. Shortness of breath
  3. feeling weak or nauseous
  4. Numbness in the legs
  5. Change skin color
  6. Dyserection

But often there are no signs of cardiovascular disease – as in the case of atherosclerosis.

If you want to quit smoking, try the NHS Smoking Helpline – in England 0800 434 6677, in Wales 0800 085 2219, in Scotland 0800 84 84 84, in Northern Ireland 0808 812 8008.

You can download the free NHS Quit Smoking app to your phone to track your progress or use the resources on the website.

Pharmacies offer services to quit smoking

The NHS has encouraged patients to seek help to quit smoking at their local pharmacy.

Every pharmacy in England will be able to offer smoking cessation aid to patients on discharge from hospital.

This means that smokers admitted to hospital and encouraged to quit can get help from their nearest pharmacist.

People will be able to make three in-person appointments with a pharmacist and receive free quit smoking supplies.

The latest NHS figures show that more than half a million hospital admissions a year are attributable to smoking.

The move follows a pilot project in Oldham, Greater Manchester, where three in five people who used the service successfully quit.

Dr Bola Owolabi, Director of Health Inequalities for NHS England, said: ‘Leaving hospital is a good incentive for people to quit smoking – and NHS pharmacies will be on their local high street with advice , support and treatment to help them with the dangerous habit once and for all.

The sweeping action is part of the NHS’ long-term plan to bring tobacco treatment services to all hospital patients by 2023/24.

Comments are closed.