Smoking marijuana even occasionally can increase your risk of suffering more severe coronavirus complications, experts have warned.
Covid-19 attacks the respiratory system and can develop into viral pneumonia in the most serious cases. Doctors say smoking cannabis leads to inflammation in the lungs, which makes them more sensitive and less able to fight off the virus if it enters the body.
Tobacco smokers have also been warned that they could be 14 times more likely to develop severe complications, said officials.
‘What happens to your airways when you smoke cannabis is that it causes some degree of inflammation, very similar to bronchitis, very similar to the type of inflammation that cigarette smoking can cause,’ chief medical officer for the American Lung Association and pulmonologist, Dr. Albert Rizzo, told CNN.
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‘Now you have some airway inflammation and you get an infection on top of it. So, yes, your chance of getting more complications is there.’
It can also become harder to diagnose Covid-19 symptoms if you are a smoker, which can both cause a dry cough, said Dr Mitchell Glass, a pulmonologist and spokesperson for the American Lung Association.
He said: ‘Covid-19 is a pulmonary disease… You don’t want to do anything that’s going to confound the ability of healthcare workers to make a rapid, accurate assessment of what’s going on with you.’
Smoking marijuana every day over a period of time has shown lung damage which resembles a person with chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD).
Those with chronic lung conditions, or those with asthma, are more at risk of suffering severe complications should they catch the virus.
Smoking tobacco is also known to damage the lungs and airways – causing a range of severe respiratory problems, while quitting has a range of short, medium and long-term health benefits.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) told Metro.co.uk there has ‘never been a more pressing time’ for tobacco smokers to give up.
Dr Rüdiger Krech, Director of Health Promotion at the WHO, told Metro.co.uk: ‘WHO always encourages people to quit tobacco use for their overall health, but there has never been a more pressing time. Coronavirus has a more severe effect on smokers because their lung function is impaired.’
Professor John Newton, Director of Health Improvement at Public Health England (PHE), added: ‘In light of this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, there has never been a more important time to stop smoking. Not only for your own health but to protect those around you. It will also help alleviate the huge pressures on the NHS.’
PHE says that those exposed to second hand smoke, including children, are also being put at increased risk.
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