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How Does Smoking Put You at Greater Risk of Contracting the Novel Coronavirus Responsible for COVID-19?

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Smoking normal or electric cigarettes can result in rapid spread of the virus to others if the smoker is infected with COVID-19. This is because the smoke or vapor from cigarettes contains respiratory droplets consisting of saliva, phlegm, and bacteria, which can then be spread far and wide.
  • The journal Scientific American cites a study of patients with COVID-19 which found that those with a history of smoking were 14 times more likely to develop severe symptoms than those who did not smoke.
  • Other tobacco products, such as electric cigarettes or hookahs, which are commonly smoked in entertainment venues, are frequently shared with others in social settings. As a result, even if each smoker uses his or her own mouthpiece, the hookah bowl and pipe are shared which can increase the risk of spreading diseases including COVID-19.

 

The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, pandemic is causing great loss and fear for people all over the world. This is especially true of the elderly and patients with chronic or underlying diseases who are at high risk for infection, severe symptoms, and possibly even death.

When it comes to COVID-19, each patient displays symptoms in differing combinations and with differing severity. In most cases, the patient recovers fully either on their own or with treatment. Only a small percentage of cases have a high risk rate for fatality as a result of the disease. These include patients with chronic or underlying illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, or other respiratory diseases, including smoking-related diseases such as asthma, emphysema, and lung cancer.

Current information from the World Health Organization indicates that smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19, as the act of smoking results in the smokers’ fingers and hands being frequently in contact with their lips. As a result, if their hands or fingers are not clean or are contaminated, the possibility of transmission of the virus from hand to mouth increases. And if the patient has a history of smoking, the symptoms of the disease are 14 times more severe than for non-smokers.

Additionally, smoking in any form, whether a normal cigarette, an e-cigarette, or a hookah or baraku, can also spread the virus to others. This is because the smoke or vapor itself contains respiratory droplets including saliva, mucus and bacteria. If smokers are infected with COVID-19, they can easily spread the disease. As a result, it is not only the smokers themselves who would be exposed to infection, but also those around them who are exposed to secondhand smoke and those who come into contact with droplets that land on their clothing and other belongings.

The Guardian newspaper recently published an interview with Prof. John Wilson, a respiratory physician and President of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. Prof. Wilson discussed the deadly effects of pneumonia in patients with COVID-19, who are divided into 4 types:

  1. Those who have the virus but do not display any symptoms. These are the least serious.
  2. Those who get an infection in the upper respiratory tract, which means they will have a fever and a cough and some mild symptoms. Many of these are unaware they have the disease, but will still be able to transmit the virus to others.
  3. Those who test positive for COVID-19 and have to be admitted to hospital. This is the largest group.
  4. Those with severe cases of the infection, most often those with underlying diseases, patients 70 years and older, and those with pneumonia. Patients in this group are most likely to die.

Smokers are usually classified within the group of those who have severe symptoms. People in this group, once infected, develop symptoms of coughing, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing due to an infection in the respiratory system which can cause pneumonia. For those who are weakened due to underlying conditions, or who have unhealthy lungs from smoking, the infection can spread more quickly and be far more severe than in non-smokers. This is because their lungs can eventually lose the ability to carry enough oxygen to the bloodstream and throughout the body, thus affecting other body systems resulting in the failure of organs such as the heart or kidneys and, ultimately, leading to death.

Recommendations for Patients with Chronic Lung Disease

  • If you are sick or in self-isolation for the monitoring of symptoms, make sure to prepare enough food, medicine, and necessary medical equipment for a period of at least 2-3 weeks.
  • Stay away from infected patients and refrain from visiting patients at the hospital under any circumstance.
  • Avoid leaving the house and especially avoid crowded places. Refrain from traveling to any foreign countries whatsoever.
  • Wash your hands frequently using soap and water or an alcohol based gel.
  •  Be careful not to touch your mouth, nose, or eyes with unwashed hands.
  • Take good care of your health by getting sufficient exercise, eating freshly cooked and nutritious foods, getting plenty of rest, and strictly following all advice from your doctors.
  • Manage your news consumption to maintain your mental health and minimize stress.
  • If you are sick, consult a doctor and ensure you have sufficient medication so as to avoid going to the hospital unnecessarily.

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the lives of every human being on the planet in one way or another. The important thing is that we all work to keep our physical and mental health as strong as possible. It’s been said that good health is the greatest wealth, and this is true because as long as we remain alive we can collect assets, money, gold, or any item of value. So please follow the recommendations of your doctors and know that the more we work together to defeat this pandemic, the sooner we can return to our normal lives and routines.


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