Smoking has been proven to damage your lungs and make asthma symptoms worse. Quitting is the best step for your overall health.

When you have asthma, you already have potentially diminished lung capacity and may also experience a variety of triggers that can make breathing difficult at times.

Most people develop asthma as a result of genetic and environmental factors. Triggers like allergies, intense activity, or exposure to dust and dander can cause flare-ups.

Although there is currently no cure for asthma, many people do eventually outgrow it. Others learn to manage the condition and enjoy a full life.

However, some behaviors can make an already difficult condition worse. If you have asthma and are still smoking, you’ll want to keep reading.

By definition, asthma is a condition in which your airways can become irritated and restricted, making airflow more difficult. But according to the American Lung Association, roughly 18% of U.S. adults with asthma also smoke.

Even in smokers without asthma, cigarette smoke is proven to:

  • cause redness
  • irritate the lungs
  • encourage mucus accumulation and swelling in the lungs
  • cause coughing, sometimes persistently

Likewise, it can destroy lung tissue that would otherwise work to effectively remove irritants. In people with asthma, these symptoms can be magnified, 2021 research suggests. They can even encourage more frequent and intense asthma attacks.

Additionally, smoking can increase the risk of a person with asthma developing other dangerous respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, bronchitis, or even a combination of them. Plus, smoking increases a person’s chances of developing lung cancer.

There is understandably less research on the effect of electronic cigarettes, but one 2021 review of the current literature found that they did contribute negatively to asthma symptoms. They advised that those with asthma avoid electronic cigarettes.

Cannabis smoking and asthma

While smoking cigarettes has been proven to negatively affect asthma symptoms, the research on cannabis smoking and asthma is newer and less conclusive.

Cannabinoids are one of the active chemicals released when you smoke cannabis. They’re frequently used in the treatment of pain and the lowering of inflammation. This could be useful in the treatment of asthma, but research from 2020 suggests that the detriments of smoking may outweigh any benefits.

Learn more about the relationship between cannabis and asthma.

Can smoking cause asthma?

Asthma would exist without cigarettes, but smoking does seem to increase your risk. To date, experts believe that asthma develops as a combined result of genetics and environmental factors.

For example, having relatives with a history of asthma and potentially having severe respiratory viruses as a child can also increase a person’s chances of developing asthma.

However, tobacco use can worsen the condition and increase the chance of more negative side effects or future health conditions.

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Science has long since proven the health risks that come from smoking. From an increased risk of heart disease and cancer to aging prematurely, smoking is the opposite of progress. For people with asthma who smoke, opting for a smoking cessation program is the best defense for preventing worsened outcomes.

Many health insurance plans provide coverage for smoking cessation programs and products. Likewise, local resources can also be found through the North American Quitline Consortium, which compiles programs and phone numbers for smoking cessation programs throughout the continent.

Advocacy organizations and government agencies also provide access to programs as well as resources to help people quit smoking. Consider one of the following options:

Does asthma go away if you quit smoking?

Although individual experiences may vary, many people will see improvement in asthma symptoms not long after they quit smoking. You may also experience fewer asthma attacks.

How long after quitting smoking does asthma improve?

In some cases, asthma symptoms can improve in as little as a week. In particular, this refers to symptoms such as wheezing and coughing. Your lung function can begin to improve within 2 weeks to 3 months.

Learn more about what can happen when you stop smoking.

What happens if you keep smoking with asthma?

Smoking with asthma only increases the chances of your condition worsening or progressing into other degenerative respiratory diseases. COPD, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis are all possible outcomes.

Why is my asthma worse after quitting smoking?

It’s not uncommon for a cough or other asthma symptoms to develop or increase shortly after quitting smoking. This can make some people feel like quitting isn’t worth it.

However, this phenomenon is short-lived and isn’t a reason to go back to smoking. Instead, consider temporarily increasing the frequency of using asthma medications. Your doctor can also help you find additional treatments to help your body overcome the addiction.

How can I make my asthmatic lungs stronger?

Exercise is one of the best ways to improve lung function, including for people with asthma. Regardless of whether you smoke, if you have asthma, reduced lung capacity and function are common concerns.

When you exercise, you can improve your lung capacity — or the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use — as well as enhance blood flow to the lungs and heart.

Learn about the best exercises for people with asthma.

If you smoke and have asthma, you’re setting your lungs up for more strain and increasing your risk of further complications. Your best option for improving lung function and reducing your risk of developing more debilitating respiratory diseases is to quit smoking.

Know that you’re not alone and that plenty of programs across the country are designed to help you put out that butt for good. Get more tips on how to quit smoking.