Smoking and Asthma: Quitting Now Could Save Your Life
We all know that smoking cigars, pipes and cigarettes is harmful for everyone. Smoking increases your risk of throat cancer, lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, ulcers, high blood pressure and gum disease. Unfortunately, tobacco smoke has additional harmful effects for those with asthma.
Smoking triggers asthma
Smoking can increase the frequency and severity of asthma symptoms. When you inhale tobacco smoke, irritating particles such as tar, carbon monoxide, nicotine, etc. settle in the airways of your lungs. If you have asthma, these particles can cause an attack. The smoke also damages the cilia in the airways. These tiny, hair-like projections are supposed to sweep dust and mucus out of the lungs. When they are damaged by smoke they can no longer perform their job. Dust and mucus accumulate in the lungs, causing further irritation. In addition, smoke causes the lungs to make more mucus than usual. The buildup of mucus in the airways can further constrict the airways and cause an attack. Second-hand smoke can be even more harmful to those with asthma because the smoke that burns off the end of a cigarette (or cigar) contains even more harmful particles than smoke inhaled directly from the cigarette.
Smoking not only makes you use your rescue inhaler more often; it blocks the effectiveness of your controller medicine as well. A study funded by the National Asthma Campaign found that oral steroids, an anti-inflammatory drug that keeps asthma symptoms under control, was significantly less effective for smokers Because steroids are less effective, smokers with asthma must quit smoking or consider a different form of treatment. Unfortunately, corticosteroids are the most effective anti-inflammatory drug available.
Risk factor for developing asthma
If you don't already have asthma, being a smoker can increase your chances of developing it later. A Finnish study of 1453 people found that current smokers were 33 percent more likely to develop asthma than nonsmokers. Surprisingly, female smokers were 143% more likely than male smokers to develop asthma.
General benefits of quitting
- Probably live longer.
- Be healthier. Smoking increases your risk of heart disease, throat cancer, lung cancer, lung disease, ulcers, high blood pressure and gum disease. It can also make your asthma worse.
- Feel healthier. Smoking causes sore throats and coughing, and decrease your athletic ability.
- Look better. Smoking causes stained teeth, face wrinkles and dull skin.
- Improve your sense of smell and taste.
- Get better sleep
- Save money.
While smoking is dangerous for everyone, causing disease and death, the habit is even more dangerous for asthmatics. Smoking can trigger attacks, reduce the effectiveness of steroid inhalers and increase the need for rescue inhalers. For those who have not have asthma, smoking increases your risk of developing it. So quit now. It could save your life.
Photo Credit: Toni Blay