Does smoking make existing asthma worse?
Tobacco smoke is a common asthma trigger. 82% of smokers with asthma say that tobacco smoke affects their asthma. Asthma sufferers have sensitive airways, which get easily irritated by smoke. This causes the airways to become inflamed and narrow and can trigger asthma symptoms or even an asthma attack. Your lungs are lined with tiny hairs called cilia, which work to sweep dust and irritants out of your lungs. Tobacco smoke damages these hairs so they are unable to work. This means that your lungs become less able to clean themselves.
Tobacco smoke also causes your lungs to produce more mucus than normal. The mucus and toxic substances build up in your lungs and airways, causing you to have more asthma flare-ups. People who smoke and have asthma are in a constant state of poor asthma control. If you smoke, you may need to take higher doses of your preventer medicine to control your asthma symptoms.
As a smoker, if you don’t control your asthma well, you have an increased risk of developing other lung conditions, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Even if you don’t develop any other conditions, your lung function will continue to deteriorate at a faster rate than that of a smoker who does not have asthma. The harmful effects of smoking are caused by all tobacco products, not just cigarettes. This includes cigars, pipes, hand-rolled cigarettes and shisha pipes.
Breathing in second-hand smoke is also very harmful to someone with asthma. As with smoking, inhaling second-hand smoke can make your asthma symptoms worse, increase the frequency of your asthma attacks, reduce your lung function and increase your need for asthma medication.