Enough has been said, campaigned and counselled about the beneﬁts of quitting smoking. The data indicating the harmful eﬀects of smoking is piling up with time. From emotional video clips to seriously threatening videos of tar from the lungs of smokers, we have seen it all. If you still aren’t convinced or ready to quit smoking yet, think again! If you or any of your loved ones have asthma, you are endangering your or their life with the exposure to smoke.
How smoking aﬀects asthma?
Asthma, as a condition, irritates the respiratory system, often causing symptoms such as coughing, chest tightness/congestion, wheezing or shortness of breath. When you inhale tobacco smoke, some of the smoke particles settle in the moist lining of the airways and irritate them. These particles can cause an attack in a person with asthma. In addition, cigarette smoke damages ﬁne hair in the nose called cilia. Normally, cilia sweep dirt out of the airways.
Smoke irritates and inﬂames the airways, ﬁlled with thick mucus - similar to what happens during an asthmatic attack. Hence, smoking can cause asthma "attacks" to happen more often. Smoking (active or passive) and asthma are hence considered as a ‘deadly mix’. If you smoke or are a non-smoker exposed to passive smoking, managing asthma is going to be much more diﬃcult. Prolonged exposure to smoke declines the lung function over the years. Not only are the symptoms more frequent and more severe, the risk of an asthma attack is also higher. Hence, to manage all these symptoms, you will need more of the relievers and preventive medicines.
How will quitting smoking help your asthma?
It is shocking to note that despite knowing that smoking worsens asthma control, 25-35% people with asthma continue to smoke.
Quitting smoking and not exposing yourself to passive smoking will be the best step towards better management of your asthma and lower your risk of an asthma attack. When you stay away from smoking, your lungs will slowly start getting clearfrom all the built-up smoke and chemicals.
Do not get demotivated by any asthma symptoms in the initial few days and seek medical help if needed. Once your lungs are clear, you will start noticing lesser symptoms, and you will need lesser medications too. You will notice that your reliever inhaler now lasts more, because you are using it less often!
Are you unknowingly increasing the suﬀering of your loved ones who have asthma?
Second-hand smoke or passive smoke is equally harmful. Studies show that non-smokers with bronchial asthma are at risk when exposed to passive smoking. So, even if you yourself do not have asthma, but someone in your family does, you need to think about quitting smoking for them! A smoke-free environment helps manage asthma better. Active or passive smoking can even harm an unborn child’s lungs, making him/her more prone to develop breathing issues.
Children who breathe second-hand smoke can have more frequent and more severe asthma attacks. Second-hand smoke may cause children to develop asthma. Children who breathe second-hand smoke are more likely to get pneumonia, bronchitis, breathing problems that don’t get better, with poor lung function. Inhaling second-hand smoke can cause lung cancer in non- smoking adults, coronary heart disease and negative eﬀects on blood and blood vessels, increasing risk of a heart attack.
We hope that this article has given you a compelling reason to quit smoking!
DISCLAIMER: "The scientiﬁc/technical content of this publication has been developed herein is for educational purpose only, please consult a Registered Medical Practitioner for appropriate diagnosis and treatment."
- Cleveland Clinic. Smoking and asthma. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/4584-smoking--asthma
- Asthma UK. Quit smoking to manage your asthma Available at: https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/manage-your-asthma/quit-smoking/
- Stapleton M, Howard-Thompson A, George S, et al. Smoking and asthma. JABFM. 2011;24(3):313-322.
- Passive smoking. Eﬀects on bronchial asthma, Dahms TE et al, Chest. 1981 Nov;80(5):530-4.
- Asthma basics, 27th Feb 2018, http://getasthmahelp.org/asthma-tobacco.aspx