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It is utterly wrong to think you can ‘clean your lungs’.

“Smokers are liable to die young”… a mantra most Nigerians know all too well. This clause, put out by the Federal Ministry of Health, has turned to be a slogan against smoking and tobacco use. At the moment legislation have banned smoking in public place, and heaped heavy taxes on tobacco makers. Also, Nigeria does not allow any form of advertisement of tobacco and her related product. A slow but far reaching clamp down on media hyping of cigarette and smoking.

So, earlier today, a question popped up on my Quora Feed, with one Mr Ray Schilling contributing to the question on ‘HOW DO I CLEAN MY LUNGS?’, I thought it instructive to share is response that seems to be popular among Quora members.

Fact is that you cannot clean out your lungs. If you smoke, quit smoking. That is the most important step. But for those who never have smoked there is no way to clean out your lungs. Ex-smokers will notice some brownish phlegm come up every once and awhile for several years after quitting. This is old tar from the cigarette smoke that is excreted by the mucous glands from the bronchial tubes and the smaller airways, called bronchioles. The remainder of the tar is visible on the surface of the lungs like a tattoo for the rest of your life.

When I was sectioning corpses as part of my anatomy training in medical school, you could see who had been a smoker and who was not. Look at the photos below. The difference is that drastic!

The only thing you can do is to prevent inhaling cigarette smoke by becoming or staying a non-smoker. Also, avoid super-polluted areas of the planet like Beijing as pollution also enters your lungs and stays there partially.

I dare add that another sign that one’s lungs is as black as the lungs shown above maybe the colour of the mucous membrane, like the natural colour of the lips and lining of the mouth. Just as one cannot simply clean off the smoking-induced change in lips colour, so it is impossible to do it to the lungs, a major internal organ.


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The Admin is a Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria Certified Medical Doctor, with profound expertise in Medical Content Creation and Medical Citizen Journalism. He is popular for being a fast rising online voice in Nigeria, with a flair for animated writing. He is a professional health content writer. He loves to swim, read and play board games. He see himself as one who is destined to play a role in the way health services are rendered to the human race.