Font Size

Cigarette Smoking (cont.)

Cigarette Smoking Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of cigarette smoking are frequently obvious even to a casual observer. Besides the confirmatory evidence (a person actually smoking a cigarette in public view), nicotine-stained fingers and teeth, the characteristic smell of smoke impregnated clothing and household items, the chronic "smokers cough," the gravelly voice, and often the visible pack of cigarettes and lighter in a person's pocket or purse are signs and symptoms that a person smokes. However, new (teenage) smokers or "infrequent" smokers may exhibit few or none of these signs and symptoms. In addition, many teens will try to "cover up" any evidence of cigarette use for any number of reasons (for example, the legality regarding their age and the purchase of cigarettes or their parents forbid smoking).

Signs and symptoms of tobacco related diseases often depend on the specific illnesses they cause. (There are many other symptoms of tobacco-related diseases, and those listed here are simply examples.)

  • Shortness of breath may be a sign of emphysema or heart disease.
  • Chest pain may signal angina pectoris caused by insufficient blood flow to the heart or a heart attack.
  • Difficulty swallowing, or persistent hoarseness, may signal a cancer in the mouth or larynx.
  • Painless bloody urination may signal bladder cancer.
  • The presence of any of the following common symptoms associated with tobacco use should prompt a visit to the doctor or hospital's emergency department:
    • chest pain
    • shortness of breath
    • persistent cough
    • coughing up blood
    • frequent colds and upper respiratory infections
    • persistent hoarseness
    • difficulty or pain on swallowing
    • change in exercise capacity
    • sudden weakness on one side of the face or body; or difficulty speaking
    • leg pain while walking that goes away when at rest
    • unexplained weight loss
    • persistent abdominal pain
    • blood in the urine
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/26/2015

Smoking Quiz IQ

Must Read Articles Related to Cigarette Smoking

Cancer of the Mouth and Throat
Cancer of the Mouth and Throat Cancer of the mouth and throat may look like an ulcer or a sore on the tongue, lips, inside lining of the cheeks, and other structures. Tobacco use, sun exposur...learn more >>
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung condition in which there is a long-lasting obstruction of the airways, and occurs with emphysema, chronic...learn more >>
Emphysema Emphysema a long-term, progressive disease of the lungs. The most common symptom of emphysema is shortness of breath. Causes and risk factors for emphysema incl...learn more >>

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Nicotine Addiction »

Cigarette smoking is a major preventable cause of disease worldwide, and it is the major cause of premature death in North America.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

Medical Dictionary