Smoking increases risk of coronavirus – doctor shares tips to help you quit

With the number of coronavirus cases across the world increasing every day, scientists are trying to grapple with how to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 disease.

The disease is especially dangerous for older people and those with underlying health issues.

One of the things that increases the risk of becoming seriously ill with coronavirus is smoking.

According to Deborah Arnott, chief executive of public health charity, Ash, advises those who smoke heavily should either quit or cut back.

This could lower their risk of catching coronavirus.

She said: “Smokers are more likely to get respiratory infections and twice as likely to develop pneumonia as non-smokers.

“Quitting smoking is good for your health in so many ways and smokers should see coronavirus as further motivation to give quitting a go to build up their body’s defence now before coronavirus becomes widespread in the UK.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also said smoking or vaping increases a person’s vulnerability to becoming infected by COVID-19.

Here Dr Simran Deo, online doctor at Zava UK, has outlined some of the most effective methods of quitting smoking.

• Nicotine replacement therapy

Nicotine Replacement therapy can reduce withdrawal symptoms by continuing the supply of nicotine, without the need for cigarettes, according to Dr Deo.

He said: “The dosage is calculated depending on how many cigarettes you used to smoke and the intake of nicotine, with the idea that this is gradually reduced and phased out.”

However, there is some research suggesting the effectiveness of this method has been overestimated in the past.

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• Prescription medication

There are various prescription medications which can be used to treat nicotine addiction.

For example Champix, which occupies the areas of the brain which are stimulated by nicotine, reduces withdrawal symptoms and minimises cravings.”

Dr Deo said: “This leads to a feeling of well-being and relaxation, which smokers enjoy. Champix occupies these receptors while reducing withdrawal symptoms and minimising cravings.”

• Behavioural therapy

Behavioural therapy has been proven to be helpful and increases your chances of stopping.

Dr Deo said: “You should think about why you would like to stop and be clear about your motivation and the advantages of being a non-smoker to maximise your chance of success – some people are motivated by the prospect of becoming a parent (children whose parents smoke have a much higher risk of developing asthma) or the financial side (smoking a pack of cigarettes a day can add up to a spend of over £2,000.”

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• Stay physically active

There is evidence that sport can distract from smoking addiction, and also help to reduce cravings during the withdrawal period, according to Dr Deo.

He explained: “The exact link between sport and smoking is unknown but experts believe that the release of dopamine during exercise has a positive impact, and has the added benefit of preventing the weight-gain some smokers experience after giving up.”

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