Passive Smoking or Secondhand smoking: Harmful health effects

What is secondhand smoke?

You might not have smoked a single cigarette in life. But your parents or partner might. This second-hand exposure is called passive smoking. The harmful effects of secondhand smoking or passive smoking are not very much different from that of actually smoking.

It’s a little bit a hard to accept, isn’t it? Do you bear the consequences of the fault of someone else’s? For all of you those who expose our loved ones to the harmful effects.  Or who are affected by the actions of the same, read on to find out what is at stake.

Why is secondhand smoke worse?

The dangers of secondhand smoke largely depend on the intensity of exposure to smoking, the period or timing of exposure to smoking during the growing years and also the existing lung function of the individuals prior to the exposure. The effects are further aggravated by the other harmful to- lungs environmental factors exposed to during the period.

Is secondhand smoke worse than smoking?

Second hand smoking harmful?
Second hand smoking harmful?

Well, the answer depends on the knowledge of the individual with regards to his/ her exposure levels. The most difficult part of diagnosing here is that the individuals are not aware in the initial stages. The reason is as they do not have the habit of smoking. This makes it much more difficult to realise the actual risks. Also, the degree of exposure cannot be quantified like that for actual smokers with cigarette pack years.

The harmful secondhand smoke effects of such risky exposure are as follows:

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD :

Cigarette smoking exposure affects the large airways, small airways and alveolar spaces of the lungs. The harmful respiratory effects are the results of these changes. The changes in larger airways cause the symptoms of cough and sputum, while changes in small airways and alveoli are cause the major physiologic changes. COPD symptoms are majorly cough, sputum, difficulty in breathing, especially on exertion. While the condition worsens, the breathing difficulty also worsens, even during normal activities.

Secondhand smoke and babies and Children:

The immune system is just beginning to learn the ropes of defending the body against diseases and hence they are the most affected. Babies and Children are prone to develop asthma, among many other respiratory diseases like bronchitis, meningococcal diseases, and ear infections.The secondhand smoke effects even before your birth.

Well, this is even more saddening and hard to accept, that even before one is born, exposure to cigarette smoke can be really harmful. Exposure of cigarette smoking to a child while it is still supposedly protected by the mother’s womb due to the mother’s smoking, is true and well documented.This secondhand smoke while pregnant causing exposure across barriers stunts the lung growth. When the baby is born, there is a very significant reduction in lung function during its growing years.

Other health effects:

Smoking tobacco or exposure to smoking unvaryingly increases the risk of developing many other deadly diseases. Heart is also affected apart from lungs. It causes ischaemic heart disease.

Does secondhand smoke cause cancer?

Yes, it does! As much as the degree of exposure is high, the chances of developing lung cancer are also high.

Do you know how many people die from secondhand smoke?

Currently, about 5% of all lung cancer deaths are attributed to second-hand smoking. The disease may present with the symptoms of blood in sputum and cough, weight loss, swallowing difficulties, wheezing, irregular heartbeats, breathing difficulties and pneumonia.

Lung cancer might seem like a logical effect. But exposure to cigarette smoking also causes cancers of the gastrointestinal tracts, pancreas, bladder, kidneys and peptic ulcers. It affects the body circulation, and it increases the risks of peripheral vascular disease. It also causes stroke and. Prevention strategies or risk reduction steps advised to a smoker will not help here.

Do you know how long does secondhand smoke stay in your system?

It is longer than you realise, especially when some smokes indoors. You should stop them from smoking indoors as the quality of the air you breathe in is reduced.

A smoker should not be just counselled of the ill effects of smoking on his bodily health but also the dangers of secondhand smoke. And if you are also part of a family that has a smoker or more than one, it is time you let them know what the harm their habit can make happen.

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