Sinus Health and Allergies: Cigarette Smoke
Why is cigarette smoke harmful?
Cigarette smoke is an air pollutant that affects the sinuses similarly to smog, exhaust or many other inhaled irritants. It disrupts the ability of the mucus membrane to filter out causes of inflammation that can lead to an increased incidence of chronic sinusitis. A new study recently released concluded that secondhand smoke inhalation is directly linked to 40% of individuals reporting symptoms of chronic sinusitis.
If you are a smoker, you are at a higher risk of sinus infections, because smoke damages the natural ability of your sinuses to clear out damaging bacteria and viruses as well as their byproducts. By continually inhaling the hundreds of carcinogens in cigarette smoke, you weaken the ability of your body to fight back against illness. This can cause your sinuses to easily clog and become blocked at the first sign of an infection.
Cigarette smoke inhalation has been linked to the following symptoms:
- Dry cough
- Difficulty breathing
- Nasal inflammation
- Sinus inflammation
- Reduced sense of smell
Chronic sinusitis last for over 12 weeks. Smokers are 60% more likely to develop chronic sinusitis as a resulting of their smoking.
How do cigarettes affect my sinuses?
Studies show that each day, adults produce an average of two quarts of mucus in their nose and sinuses. The mucus acts to clean our nasal cavities and sinuses and keep them moist and draining properly.
When we inhale cigarette smoke, either directly or through secondhand smoke, it damages and hinders the way the cilia work, causing a slowdown of the cleaning and draining processes. This can lead to obstruction and inflammation of the sinuses, causing sinusitis.
Dr. Bennett urges all of his patients who smoke to discontinue smoking immediately. A 3-prong approach with stopping smoking, counseling or support groups, and nicotine replacement has been shown to be the most effective way to quit. Avoiding secondhand smoke from friends and family members is also important in keeping our sinuses functioning normally.
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