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Do COVID-19 Symptoms Differ in Smokers?

Person With Protective Face Mask Breaking Cigarette After COVID-19

COVID-19 has impacted the world in many ways. However, those who use tobacco may be left wondering, “Can I smoke if I have COVID-19?” Medical professionals know that the disease can severely impact the lungs, leaving smokers more susceptible to catching the infection. A+ Urgent Care in Clifton, NJ, breaks down the symptoms of COVID-19, how it affects smokers, and what they can do to quit.

COVID-19 and Smoking

When someone smokes, they inhale harmful toxins from tobacco or other chemicals. Once these toxins enter the lungs, they can begin to weaken, and in turn, this decreases the ability to fight off respiratory infections. Because smoking cigarettes damages the lungs and affects the immune system, this leaves patients more susceptible to contracting coronavirus.

COVID-19 is an illness that commonly impacts the respiratory system, and smoking can potentially increase a patient’s chances of contracting the virus. Additionally, it can cause the disease to develop in severity and do so at a faster rate. This is because smoking can make it harder for the body to fight off infections. Smoking can also put patients at greater risk of developing other diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or pneumonia. If a patient develops these underlying illnesses, it can cause COVID-19 to more easily and rapidly develop. This is especially true for those who have contracted these diseases from smoking.

Plus, the act of smoking can increase one’s chances of catching COVID-19. This is because smokers typically engage in repetitive hand-to-mouth movements as they drag their cigarettes. This leads to frequent touching of the face, giving germs the chance to travel from the hands to the mouth.

COVID-19 Symptoms for Smokers

While many patients who smoke may not experience symptoms of COVID-19, it can potentially increase the chances for severe signs to develop. The most common coronavirus symptoms for smokers include:

  • Ongoing cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Confusion
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion

Smokers may experience a few or many symptoms and have a greater chance of them worsening than non-smokers. Patients will know their symptoms are debilitating if they begin to feel pressure on the chest or they cannot breathe properly. In this case, hospitalization and proper aftercare will be necessary to treat the condition and regain lung function.

Tips for Quitting Smoking

Quitting smoking can provide a multitude of benefits. In addition to avoiding COVID-19, it can decrease the risk of contracting other diseases like lung cancer. For those who have already had COVID-19, quitting can help them heal from the illness faster. Necessary lung functions can repair over time, strengthening the body’s immune response to contracting the virus. It may also play a role in decreasing the chances of hospitalization from COVID-19.

The process of quitting can be difficult. This is especially true when triggers occur and leave patients wanting to reach for a cigarette. But it’s important to know that cessation is entirely possible, and cravings should subside over time. Many helpful tips can assist with this process, such as:

  • Nicotine replacement therapy: This involves using nicotine to wean off of cigarettes. It allows the body to feel the effects of smoking nicotine without the harmful substances that tobacco emits. This can include nicotine patches, gum, nasal sprays, or inhalers.
  • Trigger recognition: Understanding what causes cravings can make the quitting process easier. Whether cravings occur during periods of stress, after meals, or at social events, identifying specific triggers can help prepare for the unavoidable. Patients can also find alternatives when triggers arise, such as chewing gum, candy, sunflower seeds, or other snacks.
  • Physical activity: Exercise can work to distract the mind during the quitting process. Not only can it make patients feel healthy and sharp, but it can also take attention away from cravings and triggers.
  • Support: There are many counseling services for those trying to quit smoking. Seeking the help of professionals can assist patients in finding healthy coping mechanisms and strategies for success.

Seek COVID-19 Testing and Treatment at A+ Urgent Care

COVID-19 can affect anyone at any time, and symptoms may or may not present themselves. This makes it important for patients to get ahead of their health and quit smoking as soon as possible. Doing so can not only protect your lungs, but it may also prevent the chance of ending up in the hospital. A+ Urgent Care can help patients quit with sound strategies for dealing with triggers and cravings. To learn more, contact us in Clifton, NJ, today.

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