Smoking can lead to conditions that make it difficult to breathe. A surgically created hole in the neck, called a stoma, is sometimes the best treatment.

Smoking can cause significant damage to your lungs, throat, and respiratory system. Over time, this damage can lead to difficulty breathing.

Sometimes, the best treatment for this is a surgically created hole in the front of the neck called a stoma. Once a surgeon has created the stoma, they can insert a small tube — called a tracheostomy tube — to reach the windpipe.

Smoking affects your entire body. The tobacco in cigarettes can change the DNA of your cells. Over time, this can cause your cells to grow at a rapid and out-of-control rate, leading to cancer.

Cancers such as lung cancer, throat cancer, mouth cancer, and esophageal cancer can make it difficult to breathe. Also, cancer spread from some of these areas can damage the trachea, larynx, and other structures in the throat.

When this happens, surgeons sometimes need to create a hole in the throat — called a stoma — to make it easier for you to breathe.

Smoking can also lead to throat inflammation and serious respiratory conditions. This can cause chronic coughing and difficulty breathing. Sometimes, surgically created stomas can also help address these conditions.

Smoking itself doesn’t cause a hole in the neck. However, it can lead to several types of cancer and multiple respiratory conditions. And the treatment for those conditions can involve the surgical creation of a hole in your neck.

Smoking can damage your lungs and make it difficult for you to breathe. Early symptoms of lung disease may include:

It’s a good idea to contact a doctor if you have any of these symptoms, especially if you smoke. They could point to a serious condition, such as lung cancer or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

A stoma is a surgically created hole in the neck that allows you to breathe.

To create a stoma, a surgeon can remove neck tissue, separate neck tissue, or create a hole through neck tissue. Some stomas are temporary, but others are permanent. A small tube inserted through the stoma connects to the windpipe.

There are a few different types of tubes for stomas. The type of tube a surgeon places in a stoma depends on factors such as whether the stoma is meant to be permanent or temporary and the exact stoma procedure they perform. Typically, tubes are plastic and disposable. Some tubes have holes in the side that allow you to talk.

Healthcare staff will teach you how to safely change your tubes and clean your stoma site.

You might have supplies such as collars, ties, dressings, and breathable caps for your tubes. Some people are able to use their stoma without a tube once it’s fully healed, but other people use a tube permanently. Your surgeon and healthcare team can give you an idea of what to expect for your stoma.

Sometimes, surgeons remove more tissue when they’re creating a permanent stoma. This may be because cancer has spread. For instance, in a stoma procedure called a total laryngectomy, a surgeon removes the entire larynx, or voice box, while creating the stoma.

You may need a tracheostomy, which is the name of the procedure in which a surgeon creates a stoma, when you can’t get enough air in your lungs due to a problem in your upper airways. Cancers that damage your upper airway are some of the more common reasons for a non-emergency tracheostomy.

A doctor might decide that a tracheostomy is the best option if they’re concerned that cancer treatments to your neck will damage your upper airways. You might also need a tracheostomy if your airways are already damaged from cancer spread.

Sometimes, conditions that cause chronic coughing — such as COPD — can severely affect breathing. This makes a tracheostomy a good treatment option for some people with COPD. Smoking is a major risk factor for COPD.

Smoking damages the respiratory system. It can also change the DNA of your cells, which may lead to cancer.

Cancers in the lung, throat, or mouth — as well as damage to your upper airways — can cause difficulty breathing. A surgically created hole in the throat, called a stoma, is a common treatment option for this type of breathing difficulty. Stomas can be temporary or permanent.