Among a number of do’s and don’ts to keep the novel coronavirus at bay, health experts now suggest that weed smoking – even occasionally – can increase the risk for severe complications from COVID-19.
According to a report published by CNN on Friday, smokers, people with chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), and other chronic lung diseases, as well as people with moderate to severe asthma are among those at high risks for severe illness from COVID-19, including the worst-case scenario of being placed on a ventilator in order to continue breathing.
“What happens to your airways when you smoke cannabis is that it causes some degree of inflammation, very similar to bronchitis, very similar to the type of inflammation that cigarette smoking can cause,” said pulmonologist Dr Albert Rizzo.
“Now you have some airway inflammation and you get an infection on top of it. So, yes, your chance of getting more complications is there,” he added.
Signs of lung damage from smoking even just a few cigarettes can show up in a matter of days. While a hit or two of marijuana doesn’t compare, there are some unique properties to a joint of weed that are definitely problematic for the lungs even in a new smoker, the report highlighted.
Health professionals underscore that the last thing suspected coronavirus patients want during a pandemic is to make it more difficult for a doctor to diagnose their symptoms.
“COVID-19 is a pulmonary disease,” said Mitchell Glass, another pulmonologist. “Do you really want to have a confounding variable if you need to see a doctor or a healthcare worker by saying, ‘Oh, and by the way, I’m not a regular user of cannabis, but I decided to use cannabis to calm myself down. You don’t want to do anything that’s going to confound the ability of healthcare workers to make a rapid, accurate assessment of what’s going on with you,” he added.
Additionally, doctors also shed light on the fact that weed, apart from calming down people in stress, also disrupts the ability to function or make decisions, especially in times of pandemics.
“You’re reducing anxiety, but that is still a change in your thinking, a change in the way you are handling facts, how you’re grasping situations,” Glass concluded.
The worldwide number of officially confirmed fatalities from the novel coronavirus now stands at above 90,000, according to a Reuters tally.
More than 1.6 million declared cases have been registered in 213 countries and territories since the epidemic first emerged in China in December. Of these cases, at least 253,000 are now considered recovered.