Smoking Increases COVID-19 Risk and Worsens Outcomes
Are you concerned about your risk of contracting the Coronavirus?
This rapidly spreading virus is currently causing havoc around the globe. In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Coronavirus a pandemic. As of mid-April 2020, there have been more than two million cases worldwide, with China, the United States, Italy, Spain, France and the United Kingdom worst affected.
As death rates climb, smokers are in the spotlight for being at increased risk.
What Is The Coronavirus?
The Coronavirus – or SARS-CoV-2 – is part of a large family of crown-shaped viruses that cause nasty respiratory infections. This new strain was first identified in December 2019 in China, where it appears to have originated at a seafood market in Wuhan Province.
Coronavirus is easily transmitted from person-to-person via droplets – even before any symptoms have presented – and has shocked the world by spreading like wild-fire.
The respiratory disease that results from Coronavirus infection has officially been named COVID-19. Symptoms typically appear anywhere from three to fourteen days after exposure and may include:
In severe cases, COVID-19 causes extensive inflammation and cellular damage in the lungs of vulnerable sufferers. This includes pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and other complications that deprive the body of oxygen and can be fatal. For this reason, smokers are at major risk and are being urged to quit.
COVID-19: Smokers are at Higher Risk
The research is clear; smoking cigarettes damages the lungs and puts you on the back foot when it comes to contracting and recovering from respiratory tract infections. This is especially true for COVID-19, which none of us have encountered before and have no immunity to.
Smoking impairs the body's natural defense mechanisms. It destroys the cilia, tiny hair-like structures in the airways and lungs necessary for removing mucous, debris and pathogens from the body before they cause damage.
Smoking rapidly depletes our body of vitamin C, the powerful antioxidant and immune-boosting essential nutrient. Without sufficient vitamin C, our immune function is impaired due to the poor functioning of white blood cells needed to fight infection.
Plus, the WHO has stated that constant hand-to-mouth contact when smoking increases risk. Frequent face-touching is a simple way to invite the virus into the body.
COVID-19: Smoking Worsens Outcomes
The outcomes for smokers who contract COVID-19 are bleak. Early research suggests that smokers are 2.4 times more likely to develop complications (like pneumonia and ARDS) and require mechanical ventilation.
Additionally, the majority of people who develop a severe case, require admission to ICU, or die from COVID-19 have at least one underlying health condition. This is relevant because smokers have higher rates of heart disease, lung disease, diabetes and cancer.
There is currently no known treatment for COVID-19. Certain medications can manage symptoms, but beating the illness depends largely on the health of the individual and the strength of the immune system.
In addition to sensible COVID-19 preventative measures – wearing a mask, hand washing and social distancing – now may be the ideal time to quit smoking. This may be challenging to do, but it could save your life.