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COVID In Smokers: An Expert Explains

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID'19), caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SAR2-COV-2) has left an indelible mark on all our minds with its notoriety.

"Smoking" has been a contentious issue among the many susceptibility factors for COVID. It is still not scientifically proven to be a risk factor for COVID '19. Research studies are still ongoing.

So, for all out there who enjoy a smoke break often, let's brainstorm for a couple of minutes and find a few answers!

Ill-effects of smoking:

1. Cough, wheezing, and chronic respiratory issues
2. Tightness in the chest, COPD
3. Cancer of the mouth, throat, lungs
4. High blood pressure
5. Diabetes
6. Chronic tooth and gum diseases.
7. Addiction and dependency

Apart from the effects mentioned above, a smoker is susceptible to many other respiratory diseases.

To name a few:

1. Frequent cold, flu, influenza
2. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) - emphysema and chronic bronchitis
3. Trigger and worsening of asthma
4. Throat cancer
5. Lung cancer

COVID is mainly a disease of the respiratory system.

As the name suggests. SARS-COV 2 elicits symptoms of severe respiratory symptoms. The virus enters the human body through the upper respiratory tract, mouth, and nasal tissues. It causes breathing issues, a dry cough, and tightness in the chest. Therefore, the argument that a smoker is more likely to develop COVID quickly is compelling.

The persistent misconception: Smokers are shielded from the deadly COVID.

Truly, in 2020, this information generated a lot of news coverage. Well-reviewed and authenticated articles were hard to come by in the early years of COVID.

Why the myth?

1. The studies were based on ad hoc investigations of smaller populations.
2. Studies were published and subjected to pre-prints without a thorough review.
3. This unusual and distinctive information went viral on social media, becoming a staple of urban culture.
4. The tobacco companies successfully monetized the hype and even funded a few studies to prove it.

What is the truth?

Smokers are more vulnerable to COVID, and smoking has detrimental effects on the disease.

Let's study how:

1. Smoking increases your risk of COVID by influencing the expression of specific genes, specifically the "mdig" gene, through different protein modifications.
2. Specific receptors on the mucosa of the throat and lungs are vulnerable to bacteria and viruses. Smokers and tobacco users exhibit higher levels of these receptor proteins' genetic expression. For example, the ACE2 receptor of the lung tissues.
3. The SARS-COV 2 spike protein is essential for entry into the body's tissues and airways. Smoking causes the cleavage of this S protein, which makes it easier for the virus to enter the host cell.
4. Smoking increases the circulating inflammatory receptors triggering inflammation.


For those of you who have been complacent about smoking and its relation to COVID, it is about time that you realize that the need to quit is more serious than ever before.

Story first published: Monday, August 8, 2022, 11:46 [IST]
Read more about: covid coronavirus covid 19 smoking
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