With the coronavirus pandemic having such a huge impact on the health and wellbeing of the global population, we’ve been overwhelmed with health-related information this year.
As smoking is already one of the leading causes of death killing more than 8 million globally every year, it’s no surprise that the impact of smoking on the coronavirus has come under the spotlight.
There has been some conflicting information over the last few months. This is not unexpected. As more data is collected across more geographic, a better picture of the health effects of smoking and the coronavirus is becoming clear.
Here’s what we do know at this point according to the World Health Organization and the Centre for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California:
The effect of smoking if you have COVID
Studies have shown that if someone has COVID, smoking makes the effects of the disease much worse. Both in the rate at which symptoms worsen, and the overall severity of the disease.
When someone has the flu or another infection of the lungs, smoking worsens their symptoms. It’s no surprise therefore that the same applies if a smoker has COVID, as this disease also affects the lungs.
It’s also believed that smoking increases the risk of being infected and developing COVID. So, there are two negative implications to one’s health if they use tobacco-related products; both an increased risk, and the severity of the disease.
There were some early studies that stated cases of COVID infections were lower among smokers than nonsmokers. This has since been proven to not be true.
The problem was that those studies were carried out on small numbers of people, and in particular, were being carried out on patients being tested for COVID, not the general population.
This has since been readdressed. Jing Cheng from the Centre for Tobacco Control Research and Education said new studies have proven that smokers had double the chance of disease progression if they already have COVID.
Why smokers are at higher risk of COVID progression
Smoking is associated with (ARDS) Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, a life-threatening condition where the lungs cannot provide the body’s vital organs with enough oxygen.
COVID is a disease that causes mild to moderate respiratory illness. As smoking lowers a person’s respiratory immune function, there is an obvious connection between smoking and COVID progression.
Smoking is also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease, and diabetes. All of these conditions also put people at higher risk of developing illness when infected by COVID.
What can you do to protect yourself?
The only real solution to protecting yourself against COVID, outside of all the regular government advice, is to quit smoking.
Your lungs are not going to repair overnight. In fact, depending on how long you’ve been smoking, you may deal with smoking-related illnesses for the rest of your life.
Your health will improve after you quit, however. For most people, their lungs will start to heal when they’ve stopped smoking. You will also see a marked improvement in other health-related areas, such as improved breathing, you’ll have more energy, be able to think clearer, and lots more.
In addition to this, you will not be as high of a risk of developing COVID, and your immune system will be stronger to fight off the virus.
To learn more about the impact of smoking on the coronavirus, other smoking-related illnesses, and safer options for quitting smoking, get in touch to speak to a member of the team.