Smoking increases the risk of the new type of coronavirus infection by weakening the immune system


European University of Lefke (EUL) Faculty of Health Sciences Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Department Instructor Assist. Prof. Dr. Aydın Meriç made statements about “Smoking and coronavirus disease” and gave detailed information.

“Smoking increases the risk of a new type of coronavirus infection by weakening the immune system. Laboratory studies on respiratory system models made from human stem cells have revealed that smoking prevents the immune system molecules called ‘interferon’ from working properly. ”Meriç said, interferon is a very important product that is synthesized by the majority of body cells and acts against bacteria, parasites, viruses and urges. He stated that it is a protein and that the failure of these molecules to work properly can lead to unwanted consequences. 

Defense mechanisms in the airways of smokers are disrupted

Meriç emphasized that the immune system is an important factor in fighting the coronavirus and that the immune system is weaker in the elderly, those with chronic diseases, cancer patients, those who do not eat well, and those who are physically or mentally exhausted, and that virus infections are more severe in these people.

“Tobacco products such as cigarettes, hookahs, cigars, pipes and electronic cigarettes contain more than five thousand chemicals (poisons). These chemicals damage all of our cells and age our cells. “The lungs, heart and veins are among the organs most affected by tobacco use,” he said, adding that the defense mechanisms of smokers’ airways are impaired and the immune system is weakened. Therefore, he drew attention to the fact that respiratory tract infections are more common in smokers than non-smokers and that they progress more severely, increasing the risk of death.

Smoking reduces natural defenses and allows the virus to settle

In the continuation of Meriç’s statement, “The use of tobacco and tobacco products such as cigarettes and hookah also disrupts the defense mechanisms of the respiratory tract and facilitates the development of many respiratory infections, including Covid-19. In smokers, as a result of changes on the surfaces of lung cells, it is easier for coronaviruses to enter the respiratory tract cells. In the studies conducted during the epidemic process, it has been determined that severe pneumonia and respiratory failure are more common in smokers and there is a higher risk of death in this group. In addition, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), which have a misconception that they are less harmful in society, increase the risk of Covid-19 5 times ”

Meric listed what can happen in our body after quitting smoking;

  • While our heart rate and pressure decrease in the first 20 minutes, blood carbon monoxide levels normalize after 12 hours.
  • After 48 hours, the damaged nerve endings begin to be repaired and our sense of smell and taste begin to normalize.
  • Within 9 months, cough and shortness of breath decrease, while the cleansing structures of our lungs return to normal.
  • In the first year, the risk of cardiovascular occlusion and heart attack decreases by half compared to smokers.
  • As the years without smoking increase, there is a decrease in the risk of many cancers (such as head-neck, larynx).

“If you think of the airways as high walls protecting a castle, smoking is like drilling holes in these walls. Smoking reduces natural defenses and allows the virus to settle. As can be seen, even within minutes of quitting smoking, chemicals such as nicotine, carbon monoxide in the bloodstream, cough, sputum production, symptoms decrease. As a result, you are never too late, so please stay away from cigarettes and tobacco products and stay healthy for your loved ones and your own health”.

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