Your Questions About An Impaired Immune System

July 27, 2013

Laura asks…

What negative effects does marijuana have on the body?

At school they said that on joint will have 4 times the negative effects on your lungs as 1 cigarette. Is this true? Are there any other PHYSICAL dangers of smoking marijuana?

admin answers:

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in North America. Yet, myths continue regarding its effects on the body and brain. In this article you will learn the basic facts about Marijuana. What it is, what its effects are, what kinds of treatments are available and how to get help if you need it.

What is Marijuana?
Marijuana is a dry, shredded green/brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa, it usually is smoked as a cigarette (joint, nail), or in a pipe (bong). It also is smoked in blunts, which are cigars that have been emptied of tobacco and refilled with marijuana, often in combination with another drug. Use also might include mixing marijuana in food or brewing it as a tea. As a more concentrated, resinous form it is called hashish and, as a sticky black liquid, hash oil. Marijuana smoke has a pungent and distinctive, usually sweet-and-sour odor. There are countless street terms for marijuana including pot, herb, weed, grass, widow, ganja, and hash.

The main active chemical in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). It is the way THC interacts with brain chemistry that causes the “high” from marijuana.

Effects on the Brain and Body
When someone smokes marijuana, THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to organs throughout the body, including the brain. The short-term effects of marijuana use can include:
• Problems with memory and learning;
• Distorted perception;
• Difficulty in thinking and problem solving;
• Loss of coordination; and
• Increased heart rate.

Research findings for long-term marijuana use indicate some changes in the brain similar to those seen after long-term use of other major drugs of abuse – changes that can include withdrawal symptoms when marijuana use is stopped. One study has indicated that a user’s risk of heart attack more than quadruples in the first hour after smoking marijuana.

A study of 450 individuals found that people who smoke marijuana frequently but do not smoke tobacco have more health problems and miss more days of work than nonsmokers. Many of the extra sick days among the marijuana smokers in the study were for respiratory illnesses. Even occasional use can cause burning and stinging of the mouth and throat, often accompanied by a heavy cough. Someone who smokes marijuana regularly may have many of the same respiratory problems that tobacco smokers do, such as daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illness, a greater risk of lung infections, and a greater tendency to obstructed airways. Some of marijuana’s adverse health effects may occur because THC impairs the immune system’s ability to fight off infectious diseases and cancer.

Marijuana use has the potential to promote cancer of the lungs and other parts of the respiratory tract because it contains irritants and cancer causing chemicals. In fact, marijuana smoke contains 50 to 70 percent more cancer causing hydrocarbons than does tobacco smoke. Marijuana users usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do, which increases the lungs’ exposure to cancer causing smoke. These facts suggest that, puff for puff, smoking marijuana may increase the risk of cancer more than smoking tobacco.

Research has shown that babies born to women who used marijuana during their pregnancies may have problems with brain development. During infancy and preschool years, marijuana-exposed children have been observed to have more behavioral problems and poorer performance on tasks of visual perception, language comprehension, sustained attention, and memory. In school, these children are more likely to show problems in decision-making skills, memory, and the ability to remain attentive.

Effects on Behavior and Learning
Depression, anxiety, and personality disturbances are all associated with marijuana use. Research clearly demonstrates that marijuana use has potential to cause problems in daily life or make a person’s existing problems worse. Because marijuana compromises the ability to learn and remember information, the more a person uses marijuana the more they are likely to fall behind in growing their intellectual, job, or social skills. In addition, research has shown that marijuana’s negative impact on memory and learning can last for days or weeks after the acute effects of the drug wear off.

Students who smoke marijuana get lower grades and are less likely to graduate from high school, compared to their non-smoking peers. In one study, researchers compared marijuana-smoking and non-smoking 12th-graders’ scores on standardized tests of verbal and mathematical skills. Although all of the students had scored equally well in 4th grade, the marijuana smokers’ scores were significantly lower in 12th grade.

Workers who smoke marijuana are more likely than their coworkers to have problems on the job. Several studies associate workers’ marijuana smoking with increased absences, tardiness, accidents, workers’ compensation claims, and job turnover. A study of municipal workers found that those who used marijuana on or off the job reported more “withdrawal behaviors”—such as leaving work without permission, daydreaming, spending work time on personal matters, and shirking tasks—that negatively affect productivity and morale.

Is Marijuana Addictive?
Long-term marijuana use can lead to addiction for some people; that is, they use the drug compulsively even though it often interferes with family, school, work, and recreational activities. Drug craving and withdrawal symptoms can make it hard for long-term marijuana smokers to stop using the drug. Feelings of irritability, sleeplessness, and anxiety are reported by people who are trying to quit.

Group therapy that focuses on becoming aware of what feelings or events trigger marijuana use and then coming up with strategies to avoid use has been shown to have the most success. Although there are currently no medications proven to reduce cravings for marijuana, researchers have reported recent discoveries that may make a medication available that can help reduce cravings.

David asks…

What are the consequences of not getting enough sleep?

I have been having trouble getting enough sleep because of school and my big sister sometimes wakes me up while I’m sleeping because she likes bothering me. I’ve only been getting about 6 hours a night for the past month. Is this bad? What’s going to happen?
It doesn’t work. My mom just tells her to stop but she does it again.

admin answers:

Long-term sleep deprivation can be dangerous, but you’re at least getting a little sleep. What you could expect to see in you case might be:
Difficulty concentrating
Weight gain (when we’re tired, we tend to feel more hungry)
An impaired immune system (ie you’re more likely to get sick more easily.)

Have your mom sit down and have a serious talk with your sister–and you should have one too.
You should try a sleep mask and/or ear plugs too.

Robert asks…

How can I tell if I have a staph infection on my tongue?

I have a small s shaped sore on my tongue, it began as an inflamed bump and now it looks more like a cut. It is sore like a burn and towards the tip of my tongue. I plan on seeing a doctor but I’m going to be traveling for work all week. I was wondering if anyone has had this before?

admin answers:

You cannot tell for sure if it is staph without being tested. It may be a canker sore. Canker sores are small shallow ulcers that appear in the mouth and often make eating and talking uncomfortable. Canker sores are a bit of a mystery, but they can occur at any age. They are not contagious. You just get them. There are two types of canker sores:

Simple canker sores. These may appear three or four times a year and last up to a week. They typically occur in people between 10 and 20 years of age.
Complex canker sores. These are less common and occur more often in people who have previously had them.

The exact cause of most canker sores is unknown. Stress or tissue injury is thought to be the cause of simple canker sores. Certain foods – including citrus or acidic fruits and vegetables (such as lemons, oranges, pineapples, apples, figs, tomatoes, and strawberries) – can trigger a canker sore or make the problem worse. Sometimes a sharp tooth surface or dental appliance, such as braces or ill-fitting dentures, might also trigger canker sores.

Some cases of complex canker sores are caused by an underlying health condition, such as an impaired immune system; nutritional problems, such as vitamin B-12, zinc, folic acid, or iron deficiency; and gastrointestinal tract disease, such as Celiac disease and Crohn’s disease.

To relieve pain and speed healing:

Rinse your mouth. Use salt water; baking soda (dissolve 1 teaspoon of soda in 1/2 cup warm water); hydrogen peroxide diluted by half with water; or a mixture of 1 part diphenhydramine (Benadryl) to either 1 part bismuth subsalicylate (Kaopectate) or 1 part simethicone (Maalox). Be sure to spit out the mixtures after rinsing.

Cover lesions with a paste made of baking soda.

Try over-the-counter products that contain a numbing agent, such as Anbesol and Orajel.

Avoid abrasive, acidic or spicy foods that can cause further irritation and pain.

Apply ice to your canker sores or allow ice chips to slowly dissolve over the sores.

Brush your teeth gently, using a soft brush and toothpaste without foaming agents, such as TheraBreath.

Dab a small amount of milk of magnesia on your canker sore a few times a day. This can ease the pain and may help the sore heal more quickly.

Check here for more information.


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