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The current novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is a respiratory illness — that means it harms the lungs more than other parts of the body.
Many scientists say that COVID-19 feature pneumonia and affects the lung function, and is especially worrisome for those with weak lung or immune systems. Worse, many experts believe that if you smoke, or you’re regularly around secondhand smoke, you may have a better chance of getting coronavirus.
Smoking may also increase your risk of developing severe complications from the virus.
“The lining of the respiratory tree becomes injured, causing inflammation,” Dr. John Wilson, president-elect of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and a respiratory physician, told The Guardian. “This, in turn, irritates the nerves in the lining of the airway. Just a speck of dust can stimulate a cough. But if this gets worse, it goes past just the lining of the airway and goes to the gas exchange units, which are at the end of the air passages. If they become infected they respond by pouring out inflammatory material into the air sacs that are at the bottom of our lungs.”
Stop Smoking and Quit Vaping
COVID-19 attacks the epithelial cells lining the airways and that catch and clear out things like pollen and viruses, which later causes flooding of airways with debris and fluids, according to the American Lung Association report.
Usually, when lungs become damaged, the vessels that carry blood through the lungs so it can be re-oxygenated constrict, or close down, so blood can be shunted away from the area that’s damaged to an area that’s still working correctly. This protects the body from a drop in oxygen.
“Some of the earliest studies on COVID-19 have found that patients who experience severe disease develop pneumonia in both lungs, accompanied by symptoms like shortness of breath,” the American Lung Association report states. “For these individuals, lung damage continues to build—which can lead to respiratory failure. That’s why it’s important to listen to your body and make note of any symptoms and stay in close contact with your healthcare provider—especially if you have an underlying lung disease.”
Along with maintaining hygiene and practicing social distancing, having healthy lungs will help you survive the pandemic better.
Smoking causes significant changes in your lungs and airways, and the effects of tobacco remain even years after you ditched cigarettes.
According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health Beat, when you smoke, the cells that produce mucus in your lungs and airways grow in size and number.
Your lungs cannot effectively clean out this excess mucus. So, the mucus stays in your airways, clogs them, and makes you cough. This extra mucus is also prone to infection like COVID19.
E-cigarettes and vaping are still relatively new, and researchers need to conduct more analysis over a more extended period to know what the long-term effects may be. What they do know is that these products contain high concentrations of nicotine, which, if swallowed, can be poisonous and cause side effects such as seizures in the lungs, mainly in young adults and teens.
With the recent coronavirus outbreak, which can trigger pneumonia and damage lungs, a new study suggested that the virus found in the lungs becomes more harmful and causes increased inflammation when exposed to e-cigarette vapor.
A growing number of health experts are warning that smoking and vaping harm the lungs and can increase the risk of severe complications from COVID-19, an alert issued by the Massachusetts Attorney General and Massachusetts General Hospital.
How to Keep Your Lungs Healthy?
Your body has a natural defense system designed to protect the lungs.
Lung health is essential, even more so with a COVID19 pandemic that affects the respiratory tract.
With the current situation of the COVID19 outbreak, the American Lung Association suggests some essential things you can do to reduce your risk of lung disease. Here are some ways to keep your lungs healthy.
- Stop smoking and vaping
- Avoid secondhand smoke or environmental irritants.
- Eat foods rich in antioxidants
- Keep the lung healthy with exercises that maintain muscle strength around the rib cage and diaphragm
- Minimize exposure to air pollution.
‘Quitxt’ Can Help You Quit Smoking amid Coronavirus Outbreak
“Quitting during this pandemic could not only save your life but by preventing the need for your treatment in a hospital, you might also save someone else’s life,” said Dr. Jonathan Winickoff, director of pediatric research at the Tobacco Research and Treatment Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, said at a press report.
Quitxt is a bilingual service for your smartphone that sends messages with culturally and regionally tailored support to help South Texas young adults quit smoking.
“If you’re thinking about quitting smoking and you’re always on your phone, Quitxt is a perfect program for you, whether you speak English or Spanish,” said Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, director of Quitxt and the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio.
The service uses text messages, or Facebook Messenger chat to help with motivation to quit, setting a quit date, finding things to do instead of smoking, handling stress, using nicotine replacement if needed, and more. The service was created by Amelie G. Ramirez, leader of Salud America! at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio.
Join Quitxt via Facebook Messenger, just hit “send message”!
Learn more about the coronavirus outbreak, and its implications for health.