How To Quit Smoking To Minimize The Risks And Severity Of COVID-19 Infection

Besides biological factors like age, weight, and existing medical conditions, lifestyle choices like smoking can also play a role in the risk and severity of COVID-19.

To start, a previous post entitled ‘Sharp Pain in Throat when Swallowing on One Side’ explains that a sore throat, a common symptom of COVID-19, can be worsened by the irritants found in tobacco smoke.

As such, individuals are highly advised to quit smoking to minimize the symptoms and complications of COVID-19.

Additionally, this article will explore how smoking can affect both the respiratory infection and disease progression of COVID-19.

Such harmful effects urge smokers to kick the habit through effective smoking cessation strategies, which will also be outlined below.

Smoking’s Effects On COVID-19 Infection

Due to public health programs and mass media campaigns throughout the years, it has been established that smoking increases the risk and recurrence rate of illnesses, including respiratory tract infectious diseases like COVID-19.

A narrative review published in the National Library of Medicine explains the several mechanisms that explain the link between tobacco use and COVID-19 infection.

For instance, smoking itself can increase the possibility of viruses entering the body due to repetitive hand-to-mouth contact and significant changes in breathing rate and respiratory flow.

Long-term exposure to tobacco smoke can also weaken the lungs’ mucosal epithelial barrier, making it more permeable and thus susceptible to virus infection.

Such changes in the lung structure can also be associated with oxidative stress and inflammation, which ultimately impair lung function and its resistance to virus invasion.

As smokers’ immune systems are also debilitated by toxic chemicals and ingredients in tobacco products.

Specifically, the main ingredients in tobacco products can reduce the number of CD4 + T cells (helper T cells), which then slows down the production of antibodies and active killer T cells that attack pathogens.

Aside from causing COVID-19 to progress and worsen more easily, a weak immune system may extend the amount of time a patient experiences the symptoms. 

The good news is that COVID-19 infection and complications can be minimized the sooner smokers quit smoking, mainly with the help of smoking cessation interventions discussed in the next section.

Effective Ways To Quit Smoking

Use Smokeless Alternatives

It’s reasonable to have a hard time quitting due to the onset of nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms like headaches, dizziness, and restlessness.

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However, smokers can opt for smokeless alternatives that deliver nicotine to the body without the same harmful effects of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

A suitable alternative is the nicotine pouch, which has grown in popularity due to its tobacco-free properties and discreet delivery format via the oral mucosa. 

Additionally, nicotine pouches are easily accessible not only offline in pharmacies and convenience stores but also online.

As shown by, these online retailers carry a broad selection of pouch flavors, strengths, and brands like ZYN and On! to suit your nicotine needs and preferred experiences, shipping directly to your doorstep from US warehouses.

This is especially convenient for minimizing contact when infected with COVID-19. Aside from pouches, another smokeless alternative you can try is nicotine gum from Rite Aid ranging from 2 to 4mg, as they are also discreet, easy to use, and available both offline and online. 

Do Stress Management And Physical Workouts

Besides addressing the biological effects of nicotine during smoking cessation, you can also try meditative and physical activities to manage stress, a common withdrawal symptom among smokers.

Meditation can come in the form of yoga, which helps relax the body and mind while also conditioning the lungs and respiratory tract otherwise affected by the risk or infection of COVID-19.

Certain yoga poses or asanas, like the seated forward bend and child’s pose, can also lower your blood pressure and slow down your heart rate and breathing — thereby improving your overall cardiovascular function. 

Meanwhile, an article published in the Frontiers of Psychiatry notes that moderate to high-intensity exercises, such as aerobics, can help boost the effectiveness of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) for smoking cessation.

By engaging in physical activity, you can overcome cravings and also restore your health in spite of the risks and complications associated with COVID-19.

To summarize, smoking can increase the risk of COVID-19 infection and progression due to weaker immune systems, changes in lung structure, and impaired lung function.

However, such risks can be managed with the help of smoking cessation strategies, namely the use of smokeless alternatives and participation in stress-relieving physical activities.

Continue reading for more insightful resources on COVID-19 health and safety.