Health Care

How Passive Smoking Poses Serious Health Risks, Including Increased Exposure To Tuberculosis, Shares Expert

The involuntary inhaling of tobacco product smoke from other people’s cigarettes, cigars, or pipes is known as passive smoking, sometimes referred to as second hand smoke or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Secondhand smoke contains carcinogens and poisonous chemicals, therefore the health hazards are similar to those of active smoking. There are several ways that passive smoking might harm lung health. 

In an interview with Zee News English, Dr Rahul Kendre, Lung transplant physician and Interventional pulmonologist at DPU Private Super Specialty Hospital, Pimpri, Pune shares how passive smoking can lead to dangerous health risks in the long run.

Inhaled secondhand smoke exposes people to many of the same poisons and harmful elements that smokers actively deal with. This exposure could lead to:

1. Respiratory Irritation: Breathborne irritants such as secondhand smoking can cause symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and sore throats.

2. Asthma Aggravation: Exposure to smoking can exacerbate symptoms, cause an increase in the frequency of attacks, or impair lung function in those who already have asthma.

3. Increased Risk of Respiratory Illnesses: Children who passively smoke are particularly susceptible to respiratory ailments like bronchitis and pneumonia.

4. Development of Respiratory diseases: Prolonged exposure to secondhand smoking is associated with an increased risk of developing respiratory diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

5. Increased Risk of Lung Cancer: Prolonged exposure to passive smoke has been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer, however the risk is frequently lower than that of active smoking. 

Therefore, extended exposure to secondhand smoke may make a person more susceptible to respiratory conditions like tuberculosis, but it does not cause the disease directly. Limiting exposure to tobacco smoke is essential for preserving overall respiratory health. 

People who are exposed to secondhand smoke, especially in areas where tuberculosis (TB) is widespread, may be at an increased risk of contracting TB. Individuals with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable. This includes:

– Children, whose immune systems are still developing, are more susceptible to infections, including TB, when exposed to second-hand smoke.

– Aging can weaken the immune system, making older individuals more prone to infections like TB.

– Individuals with pre-existing health conditions such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, or respiratory diseases may have compromised immune systems, making them more susceptible to TB.

– Malnourished Individuals: Poor nutrition can weaken the immune system, making malnourished individuals more vulnerable to TB.

Those with conditions or undergoing treatments that suppress the immune system, such as certain cancer treatments or organ transplants, are at higher risk. People on very heavy doses of medication are also prone to getting sick and must ensure that they take extra precautions when it comes to their health. 

It’s integral to remember that even though passive smoking may raise your chance of developing tuberculosis, there are numerous other factors that also play a role in the disease’s spread. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, tuberculosis is mainly spread through the air, and close, continuous contact with an infectious person is a major risk factor.


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