How Smoking Harms Your Sinuses

Bacteria and viruses cause sinus infections, which cause sinus inflammation. Smoking may damage the hair-like cilia that clean the nose, sinuses, and lungs. Sinusitis may result.

Sinuses are the hollows beneath the eyebrows and cheekbones. They help remove mucus, limit bacterial development, and preserve the skull.

Smoking and secondhand smoke exposure increase the risk of sinus infections.

Can Sinus Infections be Caused by Smoking?

Sinusitis is a disorder that may cause the sinus cavities to swell. In medical circles, it goes by the names sinusitis and rhinosinusitis. Sinus inflammation may be brought on by a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection.

Sinus infections are more likely to occur in smokers because tobacco smoke is a constant irritation.

Since smoke is a frequent irritant, smoking can put a person at risk for developing sinus infections. Cilia are microscopic structures that resemble hair and line the inside of the nasal cavities. Cilia travel along the nasal cavity alongside mucus, which is responsible for preventing infections by trapping debris and bacteria.

A person can develop an increased risk of infection if their cilia cannot move or get paralyzed.

The cilia in the nasopharynx can get damaged as a result of the following −

  • irritants such as smoke, secondhand smoke, animal dander, pollution, and dust

  • allergens

  • bacteria

  • viruses

  • fungi

A damaged immune system, colds, and seasonal allergies may also cause sinus infections.

Chronic sinus infections may occur. Acute sinus infections occur accompany colds and last a few days. Sinus infections may last over eight weeks.

Symptoms of Sinus Infection

Some of the predominant symptoms of sinus infections are −

  • Sneezing, congestion in the nose as a result of swelling in the nasal passages, nasal discharge that is typically hazy,

  • Swelling of the nasal passages causes a stuffy nose and nasal discharge that is murky, green, yellow, or even has a trace of blood.

  • Pressure and pain in the face

  • A painful throat.

  • A hacking coughs.

  • Unpleasant breath, painful throat.

Effect of Smoking on the Nose

Some of the effects of smoking on the nose are as follows −

  • Alterations in the respiratory system's structure and function

  • Swelling

  • Obstructive pulmonary disease

  • Flaws in the defense mechanisms

  • Persistent abnormality

  • Issues with tissue repair

Chronic sinusitis  When a sinus infection lasts more than 8 weeks, it is considered chronic. Chronic sinusitis may be exacerbated by prolonged exposure to irritants like those in cigarette smoke or secondhand smoke.

Nasal Cancer  Multiple studies have shown that smokers are at an increased risk for acquiring nasal and paranasal sinus cancers.

There is a possibility that smoking will cause Genetic damage to the cells that line the nasal cavity.

Other forms of sinusitis include those caused by viruses, bacteria, or allergies.

Effect of Smoking on Sinus Glands

Cigarettes include arsenic, formaldehyde, benzene and tar. Cilia in the respiratory system clean the airways to protect against pathogenic agents and environmental contaminants.

Damage to the cilia, brought on by the toxic substances in cigarettes, may cause mucus to build up and take longer to drain. Over time, this might cause a buildup of germs that can spread illness.

I might also harm sinuses by −

  • causing damage to the tissue that lines the nasal cavity

  • decreasing the sensitivity of the cough reflex

  • causing DNA to sustain ongoing damage, which can lead to mutations and

  • a failure to fix

  • causing the demise of cells

What Changes in the Nose can Occur After Giving up Smoking?

Putting an end to one's smoking habit can substantially positively impact one's health in general, including the health of the nose and the nasal cavity.

2016 research found that former smokers had better pulmonary mucus clearance after giving up the habit. Participants' mean smoking duration before to the trial was 34 years. However, there were several problems with the research, such as a small sample size.

Nasal cilia return to normal growth after the smoker quits. The body is showing signs of recovery. It may take some time, however.

When attempting to quit smoking, a runny nose is a common withdrawal symptom.

How To Quit Smoking

Even though it's not easy, giving up cigarettes is feasible for everyone who's willing to put in the effort. Here are some options that a person might consider −

Nicotine replacement therapies are limited but some of them are −

  • lozenges

  • chewing gums

  • inhalers

  • nasal drops

  • Medications like bupropion and varenicline are examples of such drugs.

  • Counseling services can assist an individual in developing a strategy to quit smoking and cope with the withdrawal symptoms that accompany quitting.

It can be concluded that because of the chemicals in cigarettes, the cilia in the nasal canal get damaged, and smoking can contribute to the development of sinus infections. Without cilia, the nose, lungs, and sinuses are more prone to infections like sinusitis. Cilia are responsible for keeping these areas clean and free of mucus and bacteria.

Health risks are possible for smokers. Smokers of any age may benefit from reducing their risk of significant health issues and premature death by giving up the habit.

Updated on: 28-Apr-2023


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