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Smoking and asthma

Things that make your allergies or asthma worse are called triggers. It is important to know your triggers because avoiding them is your first step toward feeling better. Smoking is a trigger for many people who have asthma.

You do not have to be a smoker for smoking to cause harm. Exposure to someone else's smoking (called secondhand smoke) is a trigger for asthma attacks in children and adults.

Smoking weakens the lungs. When you have asthma and smoke, your lungs will weaken more rapidly. Smoking around a child with asthma will weaken their lungs too.

If You Smoke

If you smoke, ask your doctor or nurse to help you quit. There are many ways to quit smoking . List the reasons why you want to quit. Then, set a quit date. Many people need to try quitting more than once. Keep trying if you do not succeed at first.

Ask your health care provider about:

Secondhand Smoke and Children

Children who are around others who smoke are much more likely to:

  • Need emergency room care more often
  • Miss school more often
  • Have asthma that is harder to control
  • Have more colds
  • Begin smoking themselves

No one should smoke in your house. This includes you, your visitors, your child’s babysitters, and anyone else who comes to your house.

Smokers should smoke outside and wear a coat. The coat will keep smoke particles from sticking to their clothes. They should leave the coat outside or away from a child with asthma.

Ask people who work at your child’s daycare, preschool, school, and anyone else who takes care of your child if they smoke. If they do, make sure they smoke away from your child.

Stay away from restaurants and bars that allow smoking. Or, ask for a table as far away from smokers as possible.

Secondhand Smoke and Adults

Secondhand smoke will also cause more asthma attacks and make allergies worse in adults.

If there are smokers at your workplace, ask someone about policies regarding if and where smoking is allowed. Tips to help with secondhand smoke at work are:

  • Make sure there are proper containers for smokers to throw away their cigarette butts and matches.
  • Ask coworkers who smoke to keep their coats away from work areas.
  • Use a fan and keep windows open, if possible.

References

Wallace DV, Dykewicz MS, Bernstein DI, Blessing-Moore J, Cox L, Khan DA, et al. The diagnosis and management of rhinitis: an updated practice parameter. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008 Aug:122(2).

Updated: 5/16/2012

Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.


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