Smoking and its effects on Asthmatics
Do you know what's really in cigarette smoke? How about 4,700 different chemical, including 200 known toxins and 40 known carcinogens (cancer causing substances). A few of these include formaldehyde, cyanide, carbon monoxide, ammonia, benzene, pyridine, c
Over 30,000 cancer deaths a year have a direct link to second hand smoke. People who smoke are putting themselves and those around them at greater risk. Parents in particular, put their children at risk of developing asthma. Children with asthma have a higher frequency of ER visits and hospitalization if their parents smoke, especially if that parent is the mother1,2,6,7.
Children of women who smoked during pregnancy are twice as likely to develop asthma. Children already predisposed to asthma are more likely to develop asthma earlier and are less likely to "outgrow" asthma if their mothers smoke. The effect of secondhand smoke on children are related to the amount, frequency, and length of exposure. There is encouraging evidence that the children of mothers that have stopped smoking have pulmonary function test results that are not significantly different from those of children of nonsmoking mothers7.
Ask any asthmatic and you'll find that cigarette smoke is at or near the top of their list of asthma triggers. Smoking not only acts as a very aggressive asthma trigger, it also has other effects on the lungs and airways. Cigarette smoke slows the activity of cilia. Cilia are one of the most important mechanism for moving secretions out of the lung and airways. Without the cilia working properly, secretions build up in the airways, providing a place for infections to begin, clogging up already irritated and swollen airways. If you're an asthmatic and smoke on top of that, you are increasing your risk of developing irreversible lung damage. That can lead to such illnesses as chronic bronchitis and emphysema1,8.
The continued assault on the airways from smoking will make attaining good asthma control nearly impossible and increases sensitivity to other irritants. This means more visits to the ER and more hospitalizations, not to mention higher doses of medications such as oral steroid. High doses of oral steroids brings its own assortment of problems1.
Obviously, if you smoke, to stop smoking is the best choice in reducing your health risks and your loved ones exposure to cigarette smoke. Other suggestions include1,3:
As much as possible, reduce your smoking.
Never allow anyone to smoke around your children.
Never allow smoking inside your house, only outdoors.
Don't allow smoking in your car.
Wear a shirt or jacket while smoking that can be removed and left outside before reentering the house.
Always request non-smoking areas in restaurants and airlines.