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Asthma

Cigarette Effects on Asthma

04/24/2007

Question:

I have a child with asthma and cigarette smoke bothers him a lot, the question is his dad thinks it is only when someone is directly smoking front of him, but I believe if he walks in a house or gets in a car and someone has been regularly smoking in there it can still cause an asthma attack...

Answer:

Secondhand smoke contains hundreds of chemical known to be toxic or cancer-causing - including formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, arsenic, ammonia, and hydrogen cyanide. Studies have shown that children exposed to second hand smoke are at higher risk for sudden infant death syndrome, pneumonia, and ear infections. Exposure to second hand smoke greatly increases a child's risk of developing asthma, and also makes a child who already has asthma experience more frequent and severe attacks. In some children, the reaction to cigarette smoke is obvious (they begin having symptoms soon after exposure.) In others, it is more subtle - it simply "fans the flames" of the inflammation in the airways, making preventive medications less effective, and turning the child into a "sitting duck" for the next asthma trigger he/she combats. Negative effects can occur even after only brief exposure to second hand smoke. Attempting to stop a child's exposure to second hand smoke by smoking in a different room doesn't work. Heating and airconditioning systems distribute the smoke throughout the house. (Some illustrate by noting that having a "smoking section" of the house is a little like having a "peeing section" of the swimming pool . . . ) Air cleaning systems and filters can remove large particles of grime, but not the smaller particles and harmful gases from second hand smoke. They don't "clean the air" after the smoker has stopped smoking; the smoke hangs around for long periods of time. The only smoke free environment is an environment where there is no smoking! For further information, I recommend the article below and its links.

Related Resources:

Secondhand Smoke

For more information:

Go to the Asthma health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Elizabeth D Allen, MD Elizabeth D Allen, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University