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Why Asthma Patients Should Quit Smoking

smoking and asthma

According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 1.25 billion smokers worldwide, with around 2/3rd of the population living in developing countries. Asthma affects around 300 million people worldwide and a significant fraction of asthma patients are smokers. Moreover, the prevalence of smoking among people with asthma is similar to that of the general population, which accounts for around 20%. It is known that smoking can increase the risk of asthma and its associated health problems, however, the effects of smoking on asthma is more severe. Here we will be shedding light on the ill-effects of smoking and why quitting smoking is good for asthma patients.

Is it safe to smoke if you have asthma?

Several research studies have proved that as compared to non-smokers, smokers with asthma have:

– Increased severity of the symptoms (chest tightness, chronic cough, and sputum production)

– Poor control over the symptoms of asthma

– Heightened inflammation of the airways

– Impairment of the lung function

– Insensitivity to asthma medicines such as oral and inhaled corticosteroids

– Increased visits to healthcare centers and hospitalization

– High risk of asthma-related morbidity and mortality

Hence, it is not safe to smoke if you have asthma as it can worsen the symptoms and increase your risk of asthma-related health complications.

Moreover, secondhand smoke has similar effects on the quality of life, lung function, and use of medication as active smoking. In kids with asthma, secondhand smoke increases the risk of wheezing, coughing and asthma attacks.

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Are E-cigarettes safer than regular cigarettes?

E-cigarettes are said to be comparatively safer than cigarette smoking for a short period of time. However, not much research is done on the use of e-cigarettes for smokers with asthma and its effect on overall health. 

Effects of smoking cessation for asthma patients

The fact that smoking has harmful effects on the overall health calls for the need to quit smoking, even in people with mild asthma. However, many smokers with asthma do not believe that they are at a risk personally due to smoking. But in reality, smoking cessation is associated with:

-Improved lung function

-Improvement in the symptoms

-Better control over the condition

-Significant improvement in the quality of life

-Decreased hyperreactivity

-Reduction in their usage of medications

However, the symptoms of asthma, especially cough, may worsen during the first week of smoking cessation, but it improves over time. This can lead to a temporary increase in the use of medications to control asthma. Also, once the inflammation due to smoking clears up, there is an improvement in the breathing and also better control of the condition with medicines.

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1. Perret JL, Bonevski B, McDonald CF, Abramson MJ. Smoking cessation strategies for patients with asthma: improving patient outcomes. J Asthma Allergy. 2016 Jun 24;9:117-28

2. Chatkin JM, Dullius CR. The management of asthmatic smokers. Asthma Res Pract.
2016 Jun 20;2:10. eCollection 2016.

3. Thomson NC, Chaudhuri R, Livingston E. Asthma and cigarette smoking. Eur Respir J. 2004 Nov;24(5):822-33.

4. Sturm JJ, Yeatts K, Loomis D. Effects of tobacco smoke exposure on asthma prevalence and medical care use in North Carolina middle school children. Am J Public Health. 2004 Feb;94(2):308-13.

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