Smoking ranks first among preventable causes of death. Today, hundreds of millions of people continue to smoke, affecting not only their own health, but also the health of their families, children and colleagues. The most important effect of smoking, especially on asthma patients, is that it makes the treatment and control of the disease significantly more difficult.
Asthma is a disease characterized by excessive sensitivity in the respiratory tract and narrowing of the bronchi, ultimately making breathing difficult. The emergence of the disease involves both genetic predisposition and significant environmental factors. Among these environmental factors, smoking and exposure to cigarette smoke play a crucial role.
Cigarette smoke is a significant trigger for asthma. Its impact is particularly pronounced in children. The smoking habits of parents make it difficult to control asthma in children and diminish the effectiveness of the prescribed treatment.
In a pregnant woman who smokes, the exposure of the child to the harmful effects of smoking begins in the womb. In addition to other problems such as low birth weight and an increased risk of premature birth, many harmful effects related to asthma also affect the baby. The developing baby in the womb is more sensitive to the adverse effects of smoking. Due to the impact of smoking, especially on developing respiratory pathways, the risk of asthma and allergic diseases increases. The harmful effects of smoking during pregnancy on the respiratory functions of the baby become evident in the newborn period and can persist until late childhood. In children whose parents smoke, the rates of respiratory infections and asthma are significantly higher.
When comparing smokers with asthma to non-smokers, an increase in the risk of death, hospitalization, and decreases in respiratory functions have been observed. Particularly, a decrease in the response to steroid treatment, one of the foundations of therapy, is observed in asthmatic individuals who smoke.
The effects of smoking on the lungs also make asthma control more challenging. Microscopic hair-like structures called cilia, located in the bronchi, facilitate the removal of irritant substances from the lungs through their movements. Cigarette smoke damages these hair-like structures and impedes their movements. Additionally, cigarette smoke causes damage in the smallest airways called small airways. The lungs of an asthmatic patient, who is already sensitive to irritants, become more susceptible to damage due to smoking. As a result, more frequent attacks, increased hospitalizations, and more frequent lung infections are observed.
Smoking asthmatic patients must quit smoking. If there is an asthmatic child in the family, smoking should not be allowed in their room or inside the house. Not only cigarettes but also inhaling tobacco smoke from hookahs, cigars, pipes, etc., will have a similar effect, and none of them are innocent. Ending exposure to cigarette smoke is as important as quitting smoking. In our country, smoking is prohibited in enclosed spaces, and it is necessary to show sensitivity in enforcing these rules. Your doctor will assist you in quitting smoking.
Did You Know?
According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), by the year 2050, there will be 2 billion smokers, and there will be an annual 10 million smoking-related deaths. Quitting smoking successfully can extend your life by an average of 7 years. Approximately 25% of asthma patients are smokers. Only 5% of those who want to quit smoking seek help from a healthcare professional.