Lung cancer, bronchitis, heart disease, high cholesterol, blood clots... the list of negative effects on the body caused by tobacco smoke goes on and on. Yet, we are afraid there's another disease to be included here... sinusitis! If you have ever wondered whether smoking can somehow be related to sinus problems, the answer is yes. Do you want to know why and how? Then keep reading!
The normal functioning of the sinus mostly depends on cilia, microscopic hairs found in the nose (and in the lungs) that clean the nasal cavities and paranasal sinuses by moving the mucus away. Smoking damages cilia, which over time become paralyzed and can no longer sweep down mucous secretions to the back of your throat, where mucus is swallowed spontaneously. Instead, mucus is stored in the sinuses, and that allows for bacteria to grow and multiply, thus infecting the area. Plus, the small opening that connects the paranasal sinuses to the nasal cavity, called ostium, gets obstructed thereby preventing the normal drainage of the passageways.
A greater risk for chronic sinusitis
Smoking can not only trigger sinusitis, but also make it worse. If you keep lighting cigarettes while having a sinus infection, the irritation caused by tobacco smoke and its gases may prompt an increased mucus production and, as result, a worsening of symptoms (for instance, leading to chronic sinusitis). It goes without saying that smokers are at a higher risk for allergies, asthma and colds, since their immune system is generally weaker than the nonsmokers'.
And what about second-hand smoke?
If you are a nonsmoker and worry about the effects of second-hand smoke on your body, you have to know that you aren't risk free for certain complications. For example, being exposed to someone else's tobacco smoke is linked to strokes, heart attacks and lung cancer, but its impact is considered to be worse on children. The little ones could suffer from different respiratory and ear infections, as well as asthma, chronic cough and even Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) when constantly breathing in cigarette smoke.
All in all, doctors highly recommend giving up smoking in order to stop and prevent any health issues related to tobacco use. Yet, if you've had sinus problems resulting from such a harmful habit, it may take from months to even years to get your upper airways back to normal.
And in case you want to keep on smoking no matter what, which is a legit and personal option, be on the lookout for any symptoms that may indicate underlying health conditions.