Categories: CannabisResearch

Researchers Say Smoking Cannabis Could Potentially Increase the Risk of COVID-19

Doctors have reported that smoking cannabis may increase the smoker’s risk of coronavirus, due to the inflammation caused in the lungs that could potentially reduce the ability of the smoker to fight the COVID-19 – a respiratory disease.

With the global pandemic spreading rapidly, the increasing numbers of infected cases and deaths have been causing panic in the population. A warning has been issued regarding smoking cannabis during the coronavirus outbreak, by experts at the American Lung Association (ALA). Smoking cannabis, regular or occasional, can increase the risks of more severe complications of COVID-19.

According to a statement to CNN, by a chief medical officer for the American Lung Association, Pulmonologist Dr. Albert Rizzo, the smoker’s airways undergo some degree of inflammation, similar to bronchitis, when they smoke cannabis. Dr. Albert Rizzo further added that this holds a similarity with the type of inflammation caused by cigarette smoking, and there are very likely chances of further complications if the smoker were to get infected.

Furthermore, according to ALA, a doctor will face more difficulty diagnosing a patient’s COVID-19 symptoms, if they smoke cannabis. The reason is, dry cough is one of the important symptoms of COVID-19. However, smoking cannabis can cause the smoker to easily mimic this symptom, increasing difficulty in the diagnosis.

Adding difficulty in the diagnosis and hence confounding the ability of health care workers to make a rapid, accurate assessment, would be harmful, according to Dr. Mitchell Glass, who is a pulmonologist and spokesperson for the American Lung Association.

In addition to the current risk of cannabis users during the pandemic, health bosses have reported that smokers are 14 times more likely to develop COVID-19. Furthermore, family members can be put at higher risk of COVID-19 too, due to second-hand smoke, according to the Public Health England (PHE).

Looking at the rapid spread of the pandemic with an increasing number of deaths, there has never been a more essential time to stop smoking, for the protection of the smoker’s health along with the surrounding population, according to Professor John Newton, PHE’s director of health.

According to a small but incredibly impactful survey from China, smokers with COVID-19 put themselves at higher risks of developing severe diseases. The factors that led to the progression of COVID-19 pneumonia in patients at three different hospitals in Wuhan, China, is what the study focused on.

One of the factors that the study identified was a “history of smoking”. The study was conducted between December 30 last year and January 15.

Other significant factors that the study concluded were age, maximum body temperature on admission, and respiratory failure. Chinese Medical Journal was where the study was published. The study concluded that these results could prove to be useful in the enhancement of the ability of management of COVID-19.

PHE added that the repetitive hand to mouth movement by smokers could provide the virus with an easy route of entry.

According to Professor Newton, irrespective of age, quitting the habit of smoking could prove to be beneficial as the body will continue to repair itself during the smoke-free period.

One of the immediate advantages of quitting smoking is the elimination of carbon monoxide from the smoker’s body. Furthermore, the lungs start to clear out mucus and other smoking debris, according to PHE.

Moreover, ease in breathing is enhanced after the relaxation of bronchial tubes within 72 hours of quitting smoking. Also, blood circulation improves, which eventually increases the ease of physical activities such as walking and running, within 12 weeks of quitting smoking.

Smokers can help themselves, their families and their communities, by giving up the habit, according to Hazel Cheeseman, Director of policy at Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).

Saher Asad Mir

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