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Smoking and asthma

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Many times you have come across statutory warnings like “smoking kills”, “smoking is bad for health”, etc. Smoking is not only a potential health hazard but is dangerous for asthma patients. It’s one of those worst triggers of asthma and in no way it can be supported. Let’s analyse the impacts of smoking on asthma patients.

Effects of smoking on asthma patients

  • Smokers who have asthma experience complication of respiratory symptoms- like reduced lung function, increase in airway inflammation. Control over asthma is worsened and there’s decline in response to asthma medications.
  • When you smoke, you become more prone to COPD. On the top of that when you have asthma, then the complications of COPD overlap with asthma which further complicates the treatment.
  • Not only active smoking, but second hand smoking is also detrimental for asthma patients. It can trigger asthma thereby making a person gasp for breath. Wheezing, coughing and increased frequency of asthma attacks are also experienced when exposed to second hand smoke.
  • Morbidity rate of smokers with asthma are higher than non smokers.

How does smoking trigger asthma?

Cigarette smoke contains tobacco and several thousand of harmful chemical particles and gases. When you inhale the smoke, it immediately irritates the moist lining of the airways and asthma attack is triggered.

Tobacco smoke also damages the hair-like structures of the airways, known as cilia. They help to eradicate dust and mucus out of the passages. When the cilia is damaged, dust and mucus settle in the airways, which triggers asthma attack.

Active and second hand smoke, both are dangerous for the lungs and the air passages.

How does exposure to smoke affect asthma in children?

Children with asthma when exposed to second-hand smoke are more seriously affected than adults. Their airways get severely inflamed and mucus accumulates faster. As they grow, their lung function declines, making them vulnerable to respiratory disorders. It increases frequency of asthma with poorly controlled symptoms.

Kids when exposed to heavy doses of second hand smoke can also acquire asthma.

Can an unborn child have asthma when the pregnant mother smokes?

Yes. Pregnant mothers who smoke during pregnancy are 10 times more likely to give birth to a baby with asthma than those who do not. Nicotine and other tinctures in tobacco smoke can directly come in contact with the baby via the mother’s bloodstream and affect the lungs. The consequence is- the baby is born with asthma.

Quit smoking to prevent asthma- How is it possible?

If you do not want that asthma to bother you, then you have to quit smoking. Smoking is an addiction and quitting is not an overnight affair. All you need to do is give a hearty try for the sake of your health. You can resort to the following means…

  • Educate and prepare yourself to quit smoking. Introspect on a healthy “smoking and asthma free” life and its benefits. Choose a date and swear not to smoke only for your better health
  • Seek counselling. If you cannot do it on own, take help from your doctor or counsellor. Biofeedback therapies help to quit smoking
  • Check with your doctor about the nicotine replacement products (gum, lozenges, and patches) and nicotine-free prescription medicines to get rid of smoking
  • Apart from quitting smoking, you need to protect your child as well as yourself from getting exposed to second-hand smoke. Be cautious about your environment and people you are hanging out with.

Managing asthma is completely possible and the best way is to conscientiously quit smoking and reduce exposure to passive smoking. You are bound to notice improvement within a few days to a few months and the good effect will last for lifetime.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 27, 2015

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