You may have family photo albums full of people smoking at every
type of event, from birthday parties to company picnics. That's
because smoking was once accepted pretty much everywhere - even in
doctor's offices. But that changed as we learned more about the
health problems it causes.
If you have asthma, smoking is especially risky because of the
damage it does to the lungs.
When someone smokes, he or she may cough, wheeze, and feel short
of breath. This is because smoke irritates the airways, causing
them to become swollen, narrow, and filled with sticky mucus. These
are the same things that happen during an
. That's why smoking can cause asthma flare-ups to happen more
often. Those flare-ups may be more severe and harder to control,
even with medicine.
If You Smoke
You may have started smoking because all your friends do or
because you grew up in a house where lots of people smoked. Some
people try smoking because they are curious or bored. No matter why
you started, if you're thinking about quitting, it would
probably help your asthma.
Smoking can undo the effect of any
you're taking. It also can force you to use your
more often. It can also disturb your sleep by making you cough more
at night and can affect how well you perform in sports or other
physical activities. Worst of all, it can send you to the emergency
department with a severe asthma flare-up.
If you decide to quit smoking, you don't have to go it
alone. Seek the support of others who are also trying to quit. You
also might ask your doctor about medication or different strategies
that can help you crave cigarettes less.
If Other People Smoke
Even if you don't smoke, you may still run into smoky
situations in restaurants, parties, or even at home if one of your
family members smokes. Secondhand smoke is a known
, so you'll want to avoid it as much as possible if you have
If you hang out with smokers or have a family member who smokes
in the house, you are likely to have more frequent and severe
asthma symptoms. You may have to take more medicine and your asthma
may be harder to control. Finally, you may find yourself at the
doctor's office or emergency department more often because of
There's not much you can do about other people's
behavior, but you should let your friends and family know that what
they are doing is making your asthma worse. Ask them not to smoke
in your house or car. It's your air, after all.
Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: June 2007
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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