Recently, new research published in the journal Thorax shows that people who smoke are likely to experience different symptoms of coronavirus infection in comparison with non-smokers. Secondly, the findings also showed that smokers may also have more signs of the virus and a more severe form of the disease overall.
Previously, a number of studies from last year had suggested that smoking may actually reduce the likelihood of the infection. However, much of such research was deemed unreliable by researchers.
This is because of the high chances of biases in sampling and is highly dependent on the response and participation of smokers. One of the leading authors of the study, Dr. Mario Falchi states that the findings clearly show that smokers have an increased risk of coronavirus associated complications.
To reach this conclusion, the researchers sourced data from an online application known as the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app, which people used to self-report any signs of coronavirus infection they are experiencing.
Between the months of March to April of 2020, a total of 2,401,982 people used the app to report symptoms. Out of all of these participants, around eleven percent were smokers.
During this period, nearly one-third of all participants felt unwell throughout but people who smoked had fourteen percent higher chances of having a range of coronavirus symptoms consistently such as fever, coughing, and difficulty in breathing.
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Additionally, around twenty-nine percent of smokers had five or more symptoms. Fifty percent of the people who smoked even reported having more than nine signs of the infection.
This suggests that smokers experience a wider range of signs from diarrhea and abdominal cramping to loss of taste, smell, and coughing.
All of these leads to the conclusion that the infection in people who smoke is much more severe comparatively as they are also two times more likely to visit a hospital.
Although the results of this study are in contrast with findings from early research, they may be more reliable.
As the cases of the coronavirus infection continue to increase throughout the world with a number of countries including the UK re-imposing lockdown, it is important for people to adopt measures to cut down the risk of catching the virus.
Therefore, experts suggest taking additional steps for protection such as quitting smoking over time. For people who think they will struggle or have struggled in the past, try seeking professional help.
Also, do not forget to take the necessary precautions suggested by the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention such as washing hands or using sanitizer frequently, wearing a mask in all public spaces including indoor and outdoor spaces, and practicing social distancing.
Keep in mind that deciding to quit smoking during the pandemic will not only help in the prevention of coronavirus complications but also cut down the chances of developing diseases associated with the practice such as lung and heart disease, cancer, and COPD.
Lastly, it will help in protecting others by potentially reducing the spread of the virus in the wider community.