Does smoking increase the likelihood of developing severe complications of Coronavirus?
This question has been circulating not only in the Healthcare community, but the world, on the direct effects of smoking in relation to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it is understood that smoking reduces the immune system’s capabilities, making them immunocompromised. This increases the likelihood of developing more severe symptoms of COVID-19.
Smoking may even increase your chances of developing COVID-19 through the physical act itself. Smokers are prone to touching their face more often, which gives the virus direct contact with one’s eyes, nose, and mouth.
In an analysis of 11,590 Covid patients by UC San Francisco, the severity of the disease and its resulting complications in smokers was double that of non-smokers. In comparison of smokers to non-smokers, 218 patients (29.8%) who were smokers experienced disease progression, compared to that of non-smokers with 17.6%. This is because smoking increases the risk of pulmonary infections that may damage the upper respiratory tract and further decrease pulmonary function. They are known to have a higher risk of viral respiratory illnesses, such as with COVID-19.
UCSF suggests to stop using both cigarettes and e-cigarettes to decrease the chances of getting COVID-19 and the complications that may arise from it. Cessation of smoking can, therefore, improve pulmonary function and lessen the risk of developing hindering respiratory illnesses.