Asthma and smoking
Asthma is a condition that causes breathing difficulties and reduces airflow in the lungs. Asthma symptoms, can include wheezing, breathlessness and fatigue. These tend to be occasional but can be severe, depending on your condition. If you have had asthma for a while, or have been diagnosed recently, you may be considering how smoking or being around smokers will affect you.
Can a person with asthma smoke?
Smoking when you have asthma is not recommended. Smoking further irritates your lungs and inflames your airways, which can lead to even less air reaching the lungs and increased symptoms. Because of this, smoking can be a trigger for many people living with asthma, causing symptoms to worsen and the condition to flare up. It can even bring on an asthma attack.
This can happen if you are smoking or you are around people who are smoking, whether in your house, at a party or at work. If you can, try to avoid situations where you could breathe in passive or second-hand smoke.
If you are giving up smoking, you may also want to avoid certain situations where you could be tempted to smoke, for example when you’re socialising and drinking alcohol. Tell your friends and family that you do not wish to be around smoke, or that you are trying to quit smoking. If you explain that smoke makes your asthma worse, they are more likely to support your decision, and do all they can to stop you from having an asthma attack.
Ask friends not to smoke around you or, if you live with a smoker, make sure they smoke outside. This will help to lower the risk of triggering your asthma. However, bear in mind that smoke particles will still be present on the clothing of those who smoke.
I have asthma and I smoke, should I quit?
If you currently smoke and you have asthma, you should think about how you can reduce the number of cigarettes, roll-up cigarettes, shisha, cigars or pipes you smoke, as well as how you can stop smoking completely.
Stopping smoking can have a dramatic impact on your health, improving lung function and wellbeing. Your lung capacity can improve up to 10% within just 9 months of smoking, according to the NHS.*
There are many reasons to give up smoking, especially if you have asthma. As smoking can:
- Cause you to cough more during the night and disturb your sleep
- Make you use your inhaler and asthma medication more often
- Alter how you respond to your asthma medication, so that it may not work as well as it could do if you didn’t smoke
- Worsen your symptoms and lead to chest infections as your lungs find it harder to clean themselves and remove mucus
- Bring on an asthma attack, which could result in being admitted to hospital
- Affect your breathing when you’re exercising or playing sports
How does smoking cause asthma?
Smoking can cause children to develop asthma, as it affects how your lungs function. Smoking causes damage to the tissues and blood vessels within your lungs, as well as irritating and inflaming the lungs. This damage results in abnormalities and diseases known more commonly as smoker’s lungs. Smoker’s lungs also turn black as tar deposits build up in the lungs, this can also lead to conditions such as COPD.
Children are more likely to develop asthma if their parents smoke, and if your child has asthma, smoking around them can make their symptoms worse too.
Smoking causes permanent damage to your lungs, which can lead to other respiratory conditions such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
How does smoking affect asthma?
Smoking with asthma can prevent your asthma medication from working as it should do, meaning that the condition is harder to control. You may experience more episodes of breathlessness, coughing and wheezing than you would if you did not smoke. This can make completing daily tasks a lot harder to do and could mean that your inhaler is no longer a suitable treatment.
Along with advice to help you quit smoking, we and your GP can offer add-on treatments that could help you manage your condition effectively.
If you have recently been diagnosed with asthma or been living with the condition for a while, you’ll know that properly managing your condition can help to control your symptoms. This could mean using your inhalers as directed or avoiding asthma triggers, such as allergies or smoking. If you smoke you may experience flare-ups, where you need to take more asthma medication to control your condition.
How does smoking affect children living with asthma?
Children are more vulnerable to the effects of breathing in second hand smoke, as they breathe more rapidly compared to adults. Smoking can be a trigger for many children living with asthma, and it can bring on symptoms or even an asthma attack.
Studies have shown that the prevalence of asthma in children increases with the number of smokers living in the home.** That’s why if your child has asthma, and you or a family member smoke, you’ll want to keep them from inhaling as much smoke as possible.
Ways you can protect your child from second hand smoke:
- Give up smoking or cut down the amount you smoke
- Ask friends, family and child minders not to smoke around your child
- Smoke outside rather than in your home
- Keep your car smoke free. It is now illegal to smoke in a car if children are on board in England and Wales
- Wash your clothes regularly and change them often as smoke can linger on fabric
You’ll also want to talk to your children about the dangers of smoking, and how it can negatively impact their asthma. This could help them in the future to not start smoking or try a cigarette.
Discover products to help you
We have a range of products that can help you to cut down on the amount you smoke or stop completely. As well as expert advice and support both in store and online.