Tobacco is dangerous to your health and this is a no-brainer. Campaigns and messages have told us enough that no matter how you consume it or in what form you consume it — be it cigarettes, hookah, or bidi, there is no safe substance in any tobacco product.

“These substances don’t just affect your lungs, they have a detrimental impact on your entire body and contribute in reducing the number of years in your life,” shared Dr Sibasish Dey from Res Med.

Effects of smoking

Reports suggest that India contributes 38% to the global burden of COPD – a rather alarming figure. (Source: Getty/Thinkstock)

While few long-term effects of smoking can take years to develop — some of the physical effects that develop in short term are anxiety and irritability, dull sense of smell, nausea, loss of appetite along with yellow fingers and more.

“In fact, according to the American Lung Association, cigarette smoking generates over 7,000 chemicals, many of which are poisonous and over 70 are carcinogenic. Smoking damages the air sacs in your lungs and makes breathing difficult, leading to respiratory ailments such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease),” pointed out Dr Dey.

Did you know that for an asthma patient, even passive smoking which happens by standing close to a person who is smoking can prove to be a factor for an exacerbation? 

Evidence suggests that smoking is by far the leading cause of the development of COPD because there were more than 10 million deaths globally as a result of tobacco consumption. “According to WHO (World Health Organisation), over 80 per cent of the 1.3 billion smokers live in low-income countries, where the burden of respiratory ailments is the heaviest. Out of these over 12 per cent of the smokers are found in India itself,” said Dr Dey. 

While COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is not that much heard of but it is projected to be the third leading cause of deaths worldwide as per a 2020 report by GOLD (Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease), an international body dedicated to the disease.

“Closer to home, reports suggest that India contributes 38 per cent to the global burden of COPD – a rather alarming figure,” says Dr Dey. 

How to avoid respiratory ailments?

The first and major effective method to avoid respiratory ailments is to quit smoking. “The ongoing pandemic is an opportunity for people who smoke to recognise the serious health risks associated with the addiction such as COPD, vulnerability for COVID-19 and consider quitting,” shared the doctor.

Existing COPD patients must continue with their medications and refer their treating physician in case of difficulty in breathing and those with critical cases should resort to Non-Invasive Ventilation (NIV) and Long Term Oxygen Therapy (LTOT) in order to avoid exacerbation of COPD symptoms.

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