Smoking And The Risk Of COVID-19 Infection

Updated: Jan 31


smoking and covid 2022

The use of tobacco may increase the risk of developing symptoms of serious nature as a result of COVID-19. Initial research has indicated that when compared with non-smokers, the presence of smoking habit can cause a substantial increase in the chances of adverse outcomes for patients with COVID-19 which may include admission to intensive care units, the requirement of mechanical ventilators, and severe types of health problems. At present, there is a lack of scientific evidence that can directly estimate the risk of undergoing hospitalization in COVID-19 patients who are smokers. Smokers have been found to constitute 1.4 to 18.5% of all hospitalized adult patients. Available scientific evidence has suggested that smoking has been associated with an increase in severity of disease as well as death among the patients with hospitalization due to COVID-19.


smoking after covid-19

Smoking has been already established as a risk factor for various other respiratory infectious conditions which include cold, tuberculosis, influenza, and pneumonia. The harmful effects caused by smoking on the respiratory system make it highly probable that smokers will contract these infectious diseases, thus, increasing their severity. Smoking has been closely linked with an increase in the risk of developing acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) which is a major complicating factor in severe COVID-19 cases, Any type of smoking of tobacco causes harm to one’s body systems that include both cardiovascular as well as respiratory systems. In addition, harm can be caused by COVID-19 as well to these organ systems.


Clinical cases from China have shown that individuals who have cardiovascular as well as respiratory diseases that have been caused as a result of the use of tobacco are at a high risk of the development of severe symptoms of COVID-19. The crude rate of fatality for patients with COVID-19 infection and systemic diseases (cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hypertension, chronic respiratory diseases, and cancer) is much higher when compared with individuals without these pre-existing medical ailments.



How does smoking increase the risk of COVID19 infection?

smoking prevents covid 19

If an individual is a confirmed smoker then one is already dealing with diseases affecting the lungs. This makes one more vulnerable to sickness due to COVID-19 as it directly attacks the lungs. In case, a smoker has flu or any other infection exposure, one’s airways may get affected when compared to non-smokers. If one’s lungs have been already damaged, there might be a lesser capability for oxygenation or defect in the way lungs should utilize oxygen. Any damage to the ciliary apparatus of the lungs makes it difficult for clearing the mucous outwards.


Smokers are likely to contract serious lung diseases like pneumonia. Also, they are at a high risk of developing a form of complication that is termed "acute respiratory distress syndrome" or ARDS. In this condition, there is fluid build-up within tiny air-sacs within one’s lungs which means that the lungs cannot be filled with oxygen. As a result, a decreased amount of oxygen is released into the bloodstream and hence a deficit amount of oxygen reaches the organs that can result in damage to the organs and even lead to death.


Smokers who contract the coronavirus have twice the greater chance of undergoing hospitalization and tend to develop greater numbers of symptoms when compared to non-smokers.



Can exposure to passive smoke increase the risk of COVID infection?

According to experts, droplets containing novel coronavirus that are responsible for COVID-19 infection are capable of traveling far within cigarettes’ smoke and vapors generated by e-cigarettes.

smoking prevents covid 19

The generation of second-hand smoke from cigarettes and e-cigarettes also can result in the transmission of coronavirus farther away. In addition to this, people do not wear masks when they are smoking or vaping. Thus, both smokers, as well as vapers, have a significantly high risk of contracting COVID-19 when compared to the general population.


Exposure to second-hand smoking has a detrimental effect on one’s health, in addition to this, the presence of COVID-19 droplets in tobacco smoke has potentially much lethal effect. It has been found that exhaled vapors from e-cigarettes might have a higher potential for COVID19 spread. Smoke from both cigarettes and e-cigarettes is capable of transporting novel coronavirus that can travel from one person to another while being carried upon microscopic water vapor droplets that are exhaled from one’s lungs. Even the exhalation of a vaped cloud can expose an individual to large numbers of viral particles.


What are the preventive measures against COVID-19 for smokers?

preventive measures against COVID-19

There is sufficient available evidence that suggests when one is isolated within their homes has significantly contributed to an increase in smoking behavior. Thus, it has been recommended that all governments must increase their campaigning regarding “cessation of smoking” as a part of measures related to public health for containment of this pandemic. It has been seen that smokers gather as well as share cigarettes or tobacco products and this habit aids in promoting the virus spread.


The maintenance of strict control measures for limiting cross-infection in smokers is a very difficult job. Both hands, as well as filters of cigarettes, have contamination from SARS-CoV-2. Smokers will usually come together in closed areas wherein they usually chat, drink or pass cigarettes to each other, hence, increasing the risk of contracting an infection from COVID-19. Also, cigarette/e-cigarette smoke can cause coughing or sneezing that produces excessive amounts of aerosols that contain the SARS-CoV-2. The infected aerosols remain suspended in the air for 3 hours as droplets or in the form of micro-aerosols or may survive on surfaces for hours to days.

Even in the presence of social distancing policies, individuals can still get infected. Even the use of smokeless tobacco products contributes to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and also, increases one’s susceptibility towards getting infected as users after repeated chewing spit the tobacco products mixed with saliva that comprises of various pathogenic organisms which include, SARS-CoV-2. Individuals who chew smokeless tobacco may exhibit specific behavior such as spitting. Hence, it is recommended to use face masks to stop the free spread of this virus even among smokers and tobacco chewers.


Is treatment different for COVID non-smokers and COVID patients with smoking habits?

In patients infected with COVID-19 and also, suffering from various chronic types of diseases especially respiratory as well as cardiovascular diseases have demonstrated acceleration in the process of development as well as deterioration of this disease. It has been seen that individuals using either e-cigarettes or conventional types of cigarettes 30 days before getting infected with COVID-19 are approximately 7-times more likely to get this disease diagnosed. If one observes the chest X-rays of the lungs, both vaping as well as infection with COVID-19 show very much similarity. This damage makes one lung greatly vulnerable. However, vapers have considerably greater susceptibility towards contracting COVID19 as there is greater damage to the epithelial lining which allows higher loads of this virus.


It has been shown that cardiovascular diseases have close relation with COVID-19. Thus, infection with COVID-19 over the cardio-vascular system tends to exert worse effects on pre-existing cardio-vascular diseases. In addition, a weaker cardio-vascular system in COVID-19 infected patients along with a history of tobacco usage can increase the vulnerability towards developing severe types of symptoms, thus, increasing the risk of complications.





References

  1. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/question-and-answers-hub/q-a-detail/coronavirus-disease-covid-19-tobacco#

  2. https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/smoking-and-covid-19


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